Today is Australia Day so I thought I should do an Australian story - therefore there is no Art Wednesday today. I thought long and hard, what was very Australian that would interest people and then it hit me - I will share the story of one of our most famous foods - VEGEMITE. Sadly I can't do a tasting!! This is more for my overseas readers as every Australia will know all this!
Vegemite had its beginnings when a young chemist named Dr Cyril P Callister developed a new spread from brewer's yeast. Over time it has become an Aussie icon despite originally receiving a poor reception by the public and slow sales.
Vegemite was produced at the Fred Walker Cheese Company. It's one of the world's richest known sources of Vitamin B. It appeared on grocers' shelves in 1923 as a delicious spread for sandwiches and toast and to improve the flavour of gravy, soups, and stews.
In 1939 Vegemite received endorsement from the British Medical Association which allowed doctors to recommend it as a Vitamin B-rich, nutritionally balanced food for patients. This helped boost sales and public acceptance.
Since World War II Vegemite has traveled with our soldiers for its nutrition and to provide a taste of home. Demand was so strong during the war that it often meant Aussies at home had go without it so their soldiers would have enough.
Post war, Australia experienced a post-war ‘baby’ boom’ creating a huge new market for Vegemite as the spread was given to young children due to its reputation for nutrition and wholesomeness. Infant Welfare Centres were recommending babies have their quota of Vitamin B1, B2 and Niacin - of which Vegemite has them all (no one was too concerned about the high salt content)! One of the most popular ways to eat Vegemite is to toast some bread, butter it and then spread on the Vegemite. I fed it to my children when they were sick as it settled their tummies.
The company is owned by Kraft, no longer Australian owned. Vegemite is found in 90 percent of all Australian homes resulting in over 22 million jars being sold every year. It has truly become an Aussie icon!
Personally I love it on crumpets where the butter melts though and drips all over my hands. Even my American niece and nephews eat Vegemite!
Information from: Vegemite
The original Vegemite advertisement