What Is Vegemite, and Why Do Australians Eat It?

The beer byproduct spread inspires both love and hatred Down Under

Vegemite, Austrailia's most beloved — and reviled — snack is getting a makeover. After falling sales from young eaters Down Under, Kraft is thinking of new ways to market the snack.

Vegemite isn't like an Austrailian Nutella, though — maybe more like a Nutella made from beer. That's right, the snack, introduced in 1922, is made from a yeast extract that acts as a beer byproduct. (It's one reason why it's so packed with B vitamins.) The spread is known for its pungent smell and taste, which may explain why younger generations aren't keen on the snack. Back in the 1950s, the Wall Street Journal reports, Austrailans would spread it on bread like Americans make PB&Js.

Now, sales are flatlining for Vegemite while Kraft tries to reinvent the brand. While the WSJ says eight out of 10 homes has it on shelves, sales drop off as kids grow up. Kraft is trying to target Vegemite to Austrailians abroad, homesick for the taste. However, others are banking on its delicacy status: one San Francisco chef uses it in a lobster recipe, and Vegemite sandwiches were a hit at one Austrailian Embassy party in Washington, D.C.