You'd have to feel sorry for poor old Tom Hanks. While the Hollywood superstar is busy recovering in hospital after contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19), he has only gone and got himself into a bit of bother online over a humble tube of Vegemite.

Actor Tom Hanks at an awards ceremony press call
Tom Hanks' Vegemite toast snack has sparked a furious online debate © Mike Marsland / WireImage

For those unfamiliar with Vegemite, it's a thick, black Australian food spread made from leftover brewers' yeast extract and various vegetable and spice additives. It dates back to 1919 and has a strong, salty flavour. Much like its comrade Marmite, a brewers' yeast spread that was conceived in England in 1902, it dramatically divides opinion, as our Tom has discovered.

There are those who passionately adore it and consider it to be the ultimate comfort food, and then there are those who loathe it with a vengeance and can't understand its popularity. So when Tom innocently posted a photo from hospital of his snack of two slices of toast smothered in Vegemite, the American actor could have had no idea of the furious, and quite hilarious, debate that would ensue.

Aside from the throngs of passionate Vegemite aficionados defending their beloved spread from its equally vociferous detractors, a whole swathe of fans were keen to advise Hanks on the best way to enjoy the spread. Some feared that he had gone in too hard and fast in his isolation room at Gold Coast University Hospital, by lavishly spreading the Vegemite from its yellow tube onto his toast.

Fearful that his American palate would be unable to take the full blast of Vegemite without working its way up there by degrees first, some advised Tom to start off with a mere scraping of the paste, while others suggested adding butter or avocado. The actor's fans shared recipes, guides and funny memes, all of which underlined just how passionately Australians view their national "delicacy."

Other fans noted that only one bite had been taken of the toast and wondered whether Hanks hadn't enjoyed it, while others argued that he had only paused to take the photo. Either way, he is now armed with plenty of advice and tips if he decides to tackle the powerfully-flavoured yeast spread once more, and the rest of us are now curious to sample Vegemite for ourselves.

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