I Love Marmite — Photo courtesy of osde8infoMarmite: do you love it or hate it? It's such a strong tasting spread that it seems to have polarized people around the world. Unilever, the company which now owns Marmite, has been playing on that polarization, encouraging people to sign up to the I Love Marmite or I Hate Marmite groups and write about it on message boards and in forums. But despite the strong taste, many British people were brought up on it, and can't get enough of it. Another of the brand's advertising slogans was My Mate Marmite. It's used on sandwiches, on crackers, under melting toasted cheese, and plopped into soups and stews to round out the taste and give your meal a spicy tang.
The Quintessential British Brand — Photo courtesy of mrbillThe brand Marmite was created in 1902 in Britain, although versions of a yeast extract spread exist in several countries around the world; including Switzerland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. It is a strong tasting spread created as a by product of beer making. It was actually discovered by a German scientist in the 19th century, and since its inception, has been invested with all sorts of health giving properties, including the power to fight off mosquitoes because of its high concentration of added B vitamins. The spread also packs a punch of folic acid and was given to soldiers and Prisoners of War in the First World War as part of their rations, to build up a stronger fighting force.
The name Marmite comes from the French word for a large earthenware cooking pot, a picture of which, still appears on Marmite's label. It's brand has become stronger and stronger as the Twentieth century has progressed, and it now sells all sorts of other products too, from nostalgic revisits of the past, to its incarnation in a Warholian pop art poster. Marmite the Brand — Photo courtesy of photoverulam
In New Zealand a version of Marmite is made, but extra caramel and sugars are added. In Australia, a similar product, Vegemite is also sold, and each has its own supporters and detractors. In New Zealand, the government declared a 'Marmageddon' crisis earlier this year, when stocks of the product started to run out after the Christchurch earthquakes. The country's only factory closed in November due to earthquake damage, and is only meant to resume production in July 2012. New Zealand purists were horified when their Prime Minister, suggested that if the supplies did run out, then he might turn to the Australian vegemite.
In another marmite related diplomacy, US secretary of State, Hilary Clinton asked in 2010 why anyone would 'ruin' a perfectly good slice of bread by spreading it with Vegemite, this upset Australian lovers of the yeasty product. In 2011, the food was yet again at the heart of diplomatic debate, this time in the EU, when the Danish government embargoed the sale of Marmite to British expats in their stores, saying that it contravened the rules on vitamin enriched foods and needed a special licence to be sold. Shopkeepers said it was tantamount to a ban, and enraged Brits suggested banning sales of Lego and other Danish products in the UK to retaliate. Lastly, then-Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, reportedly got stopped going through US Customs with a jar of Vegemite, and had to get foreign ministerial intervention to allow them to bring Australia's favourite breakfast spread in to the US. He allegedly explained to bemused custom's officials, that the gloopy brown spread was not dangerous, but was good for you, and loved by many of his countrymen and women as the perfect start to the day.