We’re happy little Vegemites
As bright as bright can be.
We all enjoy our Vegemite
For breakfast, lunch and tea.
Our Mummies say we’re growing stronger
Every single week
Because we love our Vegemite.
We all adore our Vegemite.
IT PUTS A ROSE IN EVERY CHEEK!
We’re growing stronger every week!

Vegemite

For most people on planet Earth, it might be difficult to comprehend how a by-product of beer manufacture should have taken such an addictive hold on the palate of every Australian.  How could something that spreads like peanut butter but tastes like mashed- up bouillon cubes become so incredibly popular?  Was it the 1954 J Walter Thompson advertising jingle, or is something more sinister at work?

Invented in 1922 by an Australian food technologist (working for the Fred Walker Cheese Company), the product was created to satisfy Australian demand for a similar British foodstuff–Marmite.  Supplies had been interrupted during World War I.  If Vegemite had been an instant and overwhelming success, I would have to question the taste buds and sanity of our Australian neighbours.  In fact, early sales were decidedly slow.

Fred Walker had the foresight to form an association with Kraft Cheese way back in 1925.  According to Wikipedia, when it was discovered that the new product did not sell like hot popcorn despite its alluring  taste, Vegemite was given away free with Kraft Walker cheese products using coupon redemption.  This was  followed by poetry competitions in which the top prizes were brand new Pontiac cars.  Sales shot up.

In 1939 Vegemite was officially endorsed by the the British Medical Association as a rich source of  B vitamins.  The spread was included in Australia’s army rations and by the late 1940s nine out of ten Australian homes had a jar in the pantry. All it took after that was the advertising muscle of an American multinational on radio and television to cement the sale to the Australian public.  Leftover brewer’s yeast with vitamins became the opiate of the masses.

The product is now produced in Australia at Kraft Foods’ plant in Port Melbourne, which rolls out more than 22 million jars per year. Virtually unchanged from Callister’s original recipe, Vegemite now far outsells Marmite and other similar spreads in Australia. The billionth jar of Vegemite was produced in October 2008

Despite being owned by Kraft, it has never been successfully marketed in the United States or any other non-English land.  New Zealand and Great Britain are the only other countries in the world where it is considered edible, although Switzerland does have a variation.  Stay tuned.

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