Vegemite is an Australian spread made from brewer’s yeast and that is strongly connected with the island continent’s identity.
Vegemite showed up on Australia’s grocery store shelves in 1923. Its inventor was Dr. Cyril P. Callister, a food technologist who used brewer’s yeast to make the spreadable paste that was originally called pure vegetable extract. Brewer’s yeast is the yeast extract leftover from beer production. Callister was employed by the Fred Walker Company to develop a product that could take the place of England’s Marmite.
The Vegemite name was chosen at the end of a naming contest with a £50 prize pool. The product was marketed as being healthier than its main competitor, Marmite. Marmite dominated the market at the time.
When Vegemite entered the marketplace in 1923, it was sold both as a spread for bread and as a flavoring enhancer for gravies and soups. After limited success with the Vegemite name, the company changed the name to Parwill in 1928. They would change it back to Vegemite 14 years later. The company was bought by Kraft in 1935.
In 1937, a limerick competition with expensive prizes was used as a way to boost Vegemite sales. It had the desired effect. The competition became nationally popular in Australia and made Vegemite widely known across the country. It would be endorsed by the British Medical Association two years later.
By 1942, Vegemite had become one of the staple products in Australian kitchens. The Australian military bought the spread in large quantities during the Second World War because of its high nutritional value. Vegemite was included in soldiers’ rations.
While the brand was under the control of Kraft, numerous Vegemite-themed products were launched including Vegemite-flavored cheese slices and baby formula. Most of these products failed.
In 2017, Vegemite was purchased by Bega Cheese.
Vegemite continues to be an Australian institution to this day with 22 million jars sold yearly, which is considerably more than the number of jars of Marmite sold.
Vegemite flavor profile
While the intense and distinctive flavor of Vegemite is sometimes said to be indescribable, many people find that it tastes and smells a little like soy sauce. It is primarily salty with a subtle caramel note.
Health benefits of vegemite
Vegemite’s reputation is built on the health-boosting compounds it contains, which include:
- B Vitamins: Vegemite is a good source of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin.
- Minerals: Vegemite contains iron, potassium and zinc.
Vegemite can be beneficial if you are trying to treat or prevent any of the following health problems:
- Obesity: Vegemite provides its nutritional and flavoring benefits with very few calories. If you are trying to lose weight, it is a great way to ensure that you get some of the nutrients you need without gaining pounds.
- Fatigue: Many people suffer from fatigue caused by deficiencies in the B vitamins that Vegemite contains.
Vegemite is very high in sodium and is therefore not recommended for anyone who is trying to restrict their sodium intake.
The traditional way to eat Vegemite is on a slice of toast. The toast is first buttered and then a thin layer of Vegemite is spread over the butter.
Vegemite must be used sparingly because of its intense flavor. Alternatively, Vegemite may be used to enhance the flavors of various savory dishes including meat pies and stews.