Australia’s favourite snack (inexplicably if you’re not from Down Under) was celebrated with a National Vegemite Day.
Australians are well known for their passionate proclamations about the superiority of Vegemite over other brands with similar offerings like the British Marmite or Promite. Traditionally eaten as a condiment on toast for breakfast, Australian have been experimenting with the vitamin B-rich salty paste in everything from meat pies to stir fries (see Buzzfeed Australia’s top 20 Vegemite recipes) re-inventing the traditional spread for a more sophisticated 21st century foodie.
More than 22 million jars are manufactured every year, many are exported to homesick expats who cannot live without the spread. According to a Nielsen poll in 2013, 80% of households across Australia report having a jar of Vegemite in their pantries. Cook Street in Port Melbourne was officially renamed Vegemite Way in April 2016 to honour the home of its manufacturers. The 1980 chart topping song ‘Down Under’ from Australian rock group ‘Men At Work’ perfectly sums up how thoroughly embedded Vegemite is in Australia’s culture with the lyrics:
Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich
According to Time magazine, academics have even devoted their research efforts to understanding Vegemite’s persisting cultural stature: “Vegemite is one of the clearest markers of cultural identity that has yet been reported,” the American psychologists Paul Rozin and Michael Siegal observed in a paper published in 2003, “and early exposure is an important, though not necessary, condition for acquiring a taste for it.” Of course even early exposure is not going to convince all non-Australians. Here American kids trye Vegemite for the first time. Most remain unconvinced.