Saturday, March 12, 2011


In Defense of Vegemite
by Yvonne Crittenden

I smiled when I read President’s Obama’s remarks about how disgusting he finds Vegemite, Australia’s national condiment. ”It’s horrible” he exclaimed at a Virginia school with visiting Aussie PM Julia Gillard. Growing up in Australia, I routinely smeared the strong yeast extract /Bovril-tasting stuff on my toast and crumpets, like my siblings and most of the other kids I knew. Sometimes we alternated it with Marmite, which is the meatier tasting version of the spread, and hails from Great Britain. In fact, I grew so addicted to it that when I moved to Canada more than 50 years ago, I panicked when I could not find Vegemite. Thankfully, I re-discovered Marmite was available here, imported from England (no Vegemite, however) and got so used to the slightly different taste, I can’t eat Vegemite any more. (Marmite is also available, if you hunt for it, in some American supermarkets).

I take supplies of Marmite on all overseas trips (including Antarctica and the Himalayas) and when fellow tourists see me putting it on my toast, they inevitably ask what it is, and when offered a taste, smell it and hastily decline, wondering how anyone can “eat that stuff”.

I knew my husband Peter, a Canadian, and I were destined for one another when comparing childhoods as we were courting. I found he loved Marmite, too! He had gone to school in England at one point and gotten hooked on it there. My two kids grew up on it, and I have made a point of persuading my grandchildren to get addicted to it too, by offering it to them when they were very small (preferably under three and innocent). Four love it, one doesn’t and the sixth is too small yet to try to convert. So long live Vegemite and Marmite — possibly the last remnants of the British Empire to survive!

Yvonne Crittenden reviews books for the Toronto Sun and has been a full-time journalist since she was 16.



  1. What a super post , I was fond of Marmite at home ; when I spent 3 years in Australia I was introduced to
    Vegemite . Wow , this was even better than Marmite .
    After reading this post I have just added Vegemite to my shopping list .

  2. I tried Vegemite on more than one occasion, hoping each experience, would be better than the last.......guess what, it still tastes bad. (The smell isn't appetizing or aromatic either.)

  3. Marketing discovers it IS possible to sell Cat Shit and convince people they like it!

  4. If Obama Hates it, I'll LOVE it!

    1. Vegamite looks like Santorum on toast.

  5. What is wrong with people not liking Vegemite? Freaks.

  6. I'm an Aussie living in Toronto with my Canadian wife, and can tell you Vegemite is available at McEwan Foods off Don Mills and Eglington.

    I love it, like all Aussies, however totally understand how revolting it would be to the uninitiated... I also think, in an philosophical way it reflects on the culture of both nationalities.

    Canadians are sweet, wholesome and natural, like Maple Syrup,

    Aussies are harsh, salty and bitter, like Vegemite. It also has to be pointed out is a by-product of brewing beer.

    In fact the original batch was produced from waste yeast from Carlton United Breweries who make some of the countries most enjoyed beer, including VB (Victoria Bitter - a lager not a bitter) arguable the country's most popular and identifiable brand (they also make Fosters but no one drinks that shit).

    And as far as Americans are concerned; they key to Vegemite is LESS is MORE... A morsel spread over hot buttered toast is delicious, or in many other recipes... A dash added to scrambled egg is delicious.

    So, in defence of our national spread-cum-foodstuff, I'll leave you with this comparison; many people enjoy Asian foods, and add soy-sauce to them. There are very similar flavours in Soy Sauce to those in Vegemite.

    And you wouldn't drink a glass of Soy Sauce, would you..?

    So, as stated; less is more. Not really a concept which Americans have a great grasp of at the best of times I'm afraid.