Love it or hate it, Vegemite (like Marmite in the UK) is an acquired taste. This thick, black, gloopy spread is popular in Australia, particular on toast for breakfast or even added to some cheese for a sandwich. Yum… Vegemite is made out of yeast extract with various different spice and vegetable additives to give it a rather distinctive flavor which is an acquired taste, to say the least! Whatever your feelings are on this delicious tar on toast, there’s no denying it’s actually quite interesting as far as food products go. Don’t believe us? Then read on to discover some truly mind-blowing facts about Vegemite.
Where the name comes from
Most brand names come from a boardroom full of important people, with a flip chart and a ton of coffee. Right? Not in the case of Vegemite! The Australian company that created the food substance, Fred Walker & Co., decided to run a nationwide competition to find the name of their new product. The winner was then picked out of a hat and awarded £50 (equivalent to nearly $4,000 in today’s money). The winning name, Vegemite, was invented by sisters Laurel and Hilda Armstrong who were then nicknamed ‘The Vegemite Girls’ for the rest of their lives. Lucky girls.
Trying to rebrand
Vegemite was initially invented because there was a Marmite shortage during the war, but once rationing stopped the sales of the substitute started to drop. In order to try and boost things, Fred Walker & Co. opted for a bit of an unusual sales tactic. They decided to rename Vegemite in 1928, using a disastrous pun. The sticky substance was to be called ‘Parwill’ for a little while before they realized that no one got (or enjoyed) the joke. It was supposed to be a play on their biggest competitor’s name, so the slogan went, “If Marmite, Parwill.” Read it out loud, and you’ll get it (personally, we think it’s hilarious).
Marketed as a health product
It is thought that Vegemite is one of the biggest sources of B-Vitamins in the foodie world, including plenty of folate, thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. There is also no fat, added sugar or animal content in Vegemite, making it perfect for those who are vegetarian, diabetic, or watching their weight. In 1939, the British Medical Association officially endorsed the healthy food product, and during World War II Vegemite was a staple in soldier’s food rations. One of the taglines at the time was, “Vegemite: Keeping fighting men fighting fit.” Since then, reduced salt versions of the product have become available, and it has been marketed by baby care providers as part of a healthy diet for children.
In Australia, back in 1984, a jar of Vegemite became the first electronically scanned product in the country. The 115g jar was scanned through an electronic checkout at Woolworths in Australia and went on to make history. You can find that same jar at the Vegemite Head Office in New South Wales. You probably wouldn’t want to eat a 33-year-old jar of the stuff though.
There are so many interesting things to learn about this little jar of edible, black gloop! Whether you could eat it all day every day, or if it makes your stomach turn, there is no denying Vegemite has made history in its own little way.