What is Vegemite?
Now that we’ve done a little to demystify Marmite, it’s time to tackle Vegemite. According to its very own dedicated section on the website of the National Museum of Australia, Vegemite was developed in Australia in 1922 after World War I disrupted the importation of Marmite. The basis of Vegemite is the same yeast by-product that forms Marmite (which Pizza Hut New Zealand recently added to the menu in a Marmite-stuffed crust).
Vegemite includes a blend of spices added by its creator, chemist Cyril P. Callister, who was instructed to create a Marmite competitor by his boss, Fred Walker.[related]
In 1925, Fred Walker and J.L. Kraft & Bros. formed the joint company, Kraft Walker Cheese Co. In a two-year marketing campaign to make Vegemite popular again, Vegemite was given away for free (via coupon) with the purchase of Kraft cheese products.
Vegemite was renamed Parwill in an attempt to gain the upper hand on Marmite in 1928. The company introduced the slogan “Marmite but Parwill” as in “If Ma might, then Pa will.” The rebranding was unsuccessful, and the name was changed back to Vegemite in 1935.
Kraft Walker Cheese Co. also sponsored poetry competitions about Vegemite with prizes that included imported American Pontiac cars. Vegemite experienced a surge in popularity and by 1939, was endorsed by the British Medical Association as a good source of B vitamins. During World War II, Vegemite was included in Australian Army rations.
If you're intrigued, click here to see our collection of the best Vegemite recipes.
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.