What is Vegemite?

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If you live outside Australia, New Zealand, or the UK, you might be unfamiliar with the super salty sensation of Vegemite

How much do you know about Vegemite?

Now that we’ve done a little to demystify Marmite, it’s time to tackle Vegemite. According to its very own dedicated section on the website of the National Museum of Australia, Vegemite was developed in Australia in 1922 after World War I disrupted the importation of Marmite. The basis of Vegemite is the same yeast by-product that forms Marmite (which Pizza Hut New Zealand recently added to the menu in a Marmite-stuffed crust).

Vegemite includes a blend of spices added by its creator, chemist Cyril P. Callister, who was instructed to create a Marmite competitor by his boss, Fred Walker.

In 1925, Fred Walker and J.L. Kraft & Bros. formed the joint company, Kraft Walker Cheese Co. In a two-year marketing campaign to make Vegemite popular again, Vegemite was given away for free (via coupon) with the purchase of Kraft cheese products.

Vegemite was renamed Parwill in an attempt to gain the upper hand on Marmite in 1928. The company introduced the slogan “Marmite but Parwill” as in “If Ma might, then Pa will.” The rebranding was unsuccessful, and the name was changed back to Vegemite in 1935.

Kraft Walker Cheese Co. also sponsored poetry competitions about Vegemite with prizes that included imported American Pontiac cars. Vegemite experienced a surge in popularity and by 1939, was endorsed by the British Medical Association as a good source of B vitamins. During World War II, Vegemite was included in Australian Army rations.

If you're intrigued, click here to see our collection of the best Vegemite recipes.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

What the heck is Vegemite (and how do you eat it)?

By Sam Sontag
Published January 11, 2021 8:30PM (UTC)

(Bobbi Lin / Food52)


This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

Cut off from the rest of the populated landmass of planet Earth for several millennia, Australia had plenty of time to develop some natural quirks. Take marsupials (pouches, hopping), for example, or the duck-billed platypus (duck-bill, poison spur), or the disturbing preponderance of poisonous snakes, for example. But it was with the invention of Vegemite in 1922 that things really went off the rails. What is Vegemite? So glad you asked.

Vegemite is a thick, dark spread extracted from the yeasty waste of the beer-brewing process, seasoned with celery, onion, salt, and some undisclosed extra flavors. Salty, umami-rich, with a hint of bitterness, Vegemite is an Australian obsession. But it wasn't always this way.

The History Of Vegemite

Our story begins with a crisis. German U-boat attacks and the turmoil of WWI disrupted the steady import of Marmite, an incredibly popular British yeast spread, into Australia. Desperate for a replacement, Australian food company Fred Walker & Co. turned to its chief scientist, Dr. Cyril Callister, for help. Over the course of several months, Callister transformed a primordial brewer's yeast sludge into a savory spread, thicker than Marmite and with a comparable, but uniquely alluring (to some) flavor. But Vegemite was not met with the adulation Dr. Callister had hoped. When Marmite imports stabilized, many Aussies returned to the more familiar product.

In 1928, in an attempt at revitalizing the brand, Fred Walker & Co. changed the name of the spread to Parwill, a clever (they thought) set-up for ads that declared, in a heavily Australian accent, "if Marmite, then Parwill!" But alas, Par-would-not. With the Vegemite name restored, Walker decided to lean on the success of his new venture, the Kraft Walker Cheese Co. (yes, that Kraft). Jars of Vegemite were given free with the purchase of Kraft products, finally — even if only because it was of no cost and plentiful — establishing the brand in Australian homes and hearts.

How To Vegemite

The greatest threat to your future love of Vegemite is reckless over-enthusiasm. Though it may look spoonable, like a dark chocolate Nutella, Vegemite is most commonly scraped over well-buttered toast, just a dab per slice. Where a thick slather would overpower your taste buds, a proper scrape gives the right balance of rounded umami that melds with the rich butter. That said, once you're comfortable with the stuff, the sky is the limit. Fans have been known to mix Vegemite with water to form a hearty broth, or even to season steak tartare.

Vegemite Substitutes

We've already suffered through a catastrophic bucatini shortage, not to mention flour and yeastdeficits should Vegemite, too, go missing from the shelves, there are plenty of alternatives.

Thinner in consistency and slightly sweeter in taste, Marmite is nevertheless the closest substitute for Vegemite. Spread it on toast as you would Vegemite or rub it on chicken.

Other Yeast Extract Spreads

Swiss Cenovis, New Zealand Marmite (different from the English product), Australian Promite, and OzEmite are some of the many other yeast extract spreads produced around the world with a roughly similar consistency and flavor profile.

Another rich, salty, spreadable product bursting with umami, miso is unmistakably not Vegemite. But it still makes for a savory substitute spread on toast with a bit of butter. Go for a darker, more aged miso to get the most powerful salt and umami kick.

Though it's unlikely you'll ever find yourself standing in the kitchen eating Vegemite by the spoonful (that's what peanut butter was made for), if you really fall for it, you may find yourself scrambling for the last jar on the grocery shelf, toilet paper be damned.

Oct. 12, 2010

"fid":"537638","viewmode":"wysiwyg","fields":"format":"wysiwyg","type":"media","attributes":"alt":"","title":"Make Vegemite at home","style":"border-width: 1px border-style: solid margin: 3px float: left width: 300px height: 200px","class":"media-element file-wysiwyg"If you are an Australian, chances are that you may have eaten vegemite sandwich at least once in your life. Have you ever wondered how to make vegemite at home? If yes, then read on to know how.

If you are not an Australian national, there is a high probability that you may not be aware of what a vegemite is. For the uninformed and the curious, vegemite is a popular Australian bread spread. The spread is dark brown in colour and is prepared from brewers yeast extract which is a by product of beer production.

People have a love or hate relationship with Vegemite. People who love the spread swear by it, while those who do not care for its salty and slightly bitter flavour prefer never using it altogether. In spite of this, vegemite is often considered the national food of Australians by some.

Although vegemite is commonly manufactured as a factory product, some people prefer making their own vegemite at home using the yeast extract. Some of the facts and tips to keep in mind while preparing vegemite at home are:

ïx81 Brewers yeast used in the preparation of vegemite is a good source of Vitamin B

ïx81 Brewers yeast is available in the market in powdered, tablets and flakes form. The powdered form is said to be most potent.

ïx81 Used and spent brewers yeast is filtered using a sieve to remove any hop resins.

ïx81 It is advisable to wash the brewers yeast to remove any bitter and unpleasant taste.

ïx81 The yeast should be suspended in the water until all the yeast cells have died down and the minerals, vitamins, and other water soluble particles are drained out.

ïx81 What remains of the original brewers yeast is a brown coloured clear liquid. One needs to concentrate this liquid under vacuum conditions until the liquid gets a paste like consistency.

ïx81 Vacuuming process helps in preserving the Vitamin B1 and the distinctive yeast flavour.

ïx81 The mixture can then be seasoned using salt, onion extracts or some celery.

ïx81 The vegemite can be used as a spread on breads, muffins etc.

ïx81 It may be also be added to gravy or sauces.

ïx81 Vegemite is one of the best sources of Vitamin B.

ïx81 Only a very thin layer of vegemite should be spread on toasts or muffin.

ïx81 Butter may also be added while seasoning the vegemite.

Making vegemite at home is not a very popular custom as most people prefer the distinctive taste of the commercially produced vegemite. However, for the adventurous people out there, our guide on how to make vegemite at home may prove helpful.

What Are the Ingredients of Vegemite?

The makers of Vegemite have never officially disclosed the ingredient list to the public. One of the likely ingredients is Brewer's yeast. Vegemite was invented by a young chemist named Dr. Cyril P Callister. He was hired by the Fred Walker Company in 1922 to create a spread from Brewer's yeast. Other ingredients in Vegemite are malt extract derived from barley and yeast extract, from yeast grown on barley and wheat.

The official recipe is a secret, but Vegemite's website does reveal that the ingredients of Vegemite have not changed since its introduction in 1923. They also state Vegemite contains B vitamins and contains practically no fat. Vegemite is a spread primarily consumed in Australia, where it's found in the pantries of approximately 80 percent of households. About 22 million jars of Vegemite are manufactured each year in Australia and 1.2 billion servings of the spread are consumed by Australians.

Fred Walker's daughter came up with the name Vegemite, which was chosen out of hundreds of entries in a national competition to name the product. Vegemite has been produced in Australia since its launch in 1923. 90 percent of the ingredients are sourced from within Australia and only 2 percent of Vegemite is exported overseas. Vegemite is certified Halal and kosher and does not contain genetically modified organisms.

Vegemite Is the Curious Comfort Food From Down Under

If you've never tried Vegemite, you're missing out — at least, that's what they say in Australia, where the savory spread is king. But if you're not from Down Under, you probably don't even know what it is.

Well, Vegemite is a breakfast spread with a peanut butter-like consistency that's made from brewers' yeast extract. This Australian staple, renowned for a salty, sometimes yeasty flavor, was inspired by the British spread Marmite, that's also made from yeast extract.

The Marmite Food Extract Company bottled and exported its spread to Australia and New Zealand in the early 1900s. Rich in vitamin B, Marmite was a staple for soldiers during World War I. When war disrupted imports, Australians had to get creative. Melbourne chemist Cyril Percy Callister introduced Australia's own version of the black paste, and Vegemite was born.

Fast-forward more than 100 years, and Vegemite is still an Australian favorite. Kentucky resident Sid Pomeroy, who was born in Australia and lived there for 37 years before moving to the U.S., says most families start their kids on Vegemite early. "My first taste that I remember would be around age 4 or 5," Pomeroy says in an email. "It's just something we ate most mornings for breakfast: Vegemite on toast. Even to this day I watch my 1-year-old granddaughter eat Vegemite toast via FaceTime."

Acquiring the Vegemite Taste

While it's beloved in Australia, Vegemite has yet to catch on in the U.S. Australian-born chef Stuart Rackham says the spread takes some time to get used to. Rackham is vice president of innovation and supply chain at Fogo de Chão in Houston.

"It's what you would call an acquired taste," Rackham says in an email. "Just looking at its black color and solid consistency may raise questions, and then when you smell it for the first time, it can be overwhelming." That smell he's describing — a result of its brewers-yeast make up — is a described as "sulfur, meaty, chicken broth" according to The Guardian. That's one reason Americans may turn their noses up. Another? The strong taste.

"Growing up on it with toast or with cheese on a sandwich, it's something you grow accustomed to and kind of crave," Rackham says. "I think to a lot of people who try it for the first time, they think of it like applying peanut butter to a piece of bread, so they slather it on. Actually, you only need a thin spreading."

How to Eat Vegemite

Australian actor Hugh Jackman gave American late-night host Jimmy Fallon a Vegemite lesson we could all learn from in 2015. "It's not like Nutella, you can't scoop it on," Jackman said on the show. He went on to give a must-watch tutorial for Vegemite virgins.

Vegemite on buttered toast is perhaps the simplest, most straightforward way to eat it, although cheese and, increasingly, avocado are among the plus-up recipes. But Rackham has a few other tricks up his sleeve. "It's really best enjoyed with hot toast and butter, but it can be used in some beef recipes as a stock, like in a stew," Rackham says. "It adds an interesting complexity and salty and savory note. One use I remember from childhood is when you're feeling a little under the weather, a spoonful of Vegemite in a hot mug of water helps, and gives you a nice dose of vitamin B."

And more about those health perks: Vegemite has a lot of them. While it may be a savory comfort food for Australians, its megadose of vitamin B is what led to its creation in the first place. Soldiers relied on Vegemite, and its predecessor Marmite, for vitamin B during World War I. According to Healthline, it's a great source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B9 the reduced-salt Vegemite options include B6 and B12.

Together, these vitamins support everything from heart health and brain health to reduced fatigue and anxiety. And, according to Pomeroy's experience, the brown spread has another miraculous benefit: "It's a great hangover cure."

Vegemite is banned in some Australian jails to prevent inmates from extracting yeast to make homebrew booze. With the right ingredients, Vegemite can contribute to a home brew with an alcohol content between 3.5 to 5 percent, but experts say the taste is downright awful.

This is a very simple recipe, my first actually. It's a great substitute for vegemite. I got the idea from some other online recipes for vegemite substitions. I usually just mix up a small amount in a mug and spread it on what ever I want. I imagine it would keep in the fridge for a little while, though I've never made up enough to store it beyond a few days.

Vegemite oatmeal and tomato jelly: The weirdest ways Australia’s favourite spread has been eaten


The 1920s were a little rocky for Australia’s most famous spread, which hit shelves for the first time 96 years ago.

Vegemite was developed in 1922 by Australian food manufacturer Fred Walker and chemist Cyril P Callister, who set out to create a product to rival Marmite.

Initially called Pure Vegetable Extract, a national naming competition saw “Vegemite” pulled out of a hat to be crowned the winner in 1923.

It was trademarked and sent into stores, but sales were slow. And a branding change to “Parwill” in 1928 did not help things along.

The name Vegemite was eventually reinstated, and a series of advertisements, cookbooks, competitions and giveaways popularised the spread. Its high Vitamin B count became well known, and Vegemite was even bought in bulk by the armed forces in World War II.

The rest, as they say, is happy-little-Vegemite-history (but let’s not talk about iSnack 2.0).

To celebrate just one of Vegemite’s birthdays (Australians have also been known to celebrate when Vegemite was trademarked and when it was invented), here are some weird and wonderful ways to eat “Australia’s favourite spread”.

Oatmeal soup

In 1939, as Vegemite was cementing itself in Australia’s psyche, The Australian Woman’s Mirror published several reader-submitted recipes.

This one from “Dorothy” does not sound too bad at all.

/> This advertisement from 1965 highlights just a few of Vegemite’s uses. Photo:
National Library of Australia

Oatmeal Soup

Wash, peel, trim and slice 2 small leeks and cook in 1 oz. butter until butter is absorbed. Add 3/4 oz. oatmeal and 1 pint water, stir til boiling, add 1/2 pint milk and simmer 3/4 hour. Add 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon Vegemite or Marmite. Season, reheat but don’t boil, and serve with fried bread.

Breakfast rissoles

A few years later in 1948, The Australian Woman’s Mirror had a few more inventive suggestions:

“Add a teaspoon of Vegemite to scrambled eggs or leftover meat for breakfast rissoles,” they wrote.

“See what it does to potato pie, meat or vegetable fritters or patties.

“A walnut roast, rice dishes and casserole meat dishes, not to mention tasteless gravies, are all greatly improved by the addition of 1/2 a teaspoon to a teaspoon of Vegemite in the recipe.”

They also suggested adding Vegemite to omelettes, macaroni and spaghetti.

The Vegemite Lifesaver

Believe it or not, there are dozens of recipes for drinking Vegemite.

From dissolving some in milk, to drinking it with hot water and lemon, the most bizarre has to be the Vegemite Lifesaver, as seen in a Kraft Walker Cheese Co cookbook from the 1940s.

“Mix together one well-beaten egg, one tablespoonful ketchup, 1/2 tablespoonful lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoonful Vegemite and dissolve in 1/2 tablespoonful boiling water. Serve very cold or shake and serve with crushed ice.”

Vegemite and jelly

Kraft also published a few recipes for jellied Vegemite salads.

While Vegemite is well acknowledged as a nice, salty addition to toast and avocado, we are just not sure about having it with sausages, nutmeg and gelatine.

/> Kraft published this recipe in one of its cookbooks. Photo: National Library of Australia

Vegemite chicken

Speaking of things that actually sound OK, chef Ben O’Donoghue created this recipe for Vegemite chicken in 2010.

It involves smearing the whole roast chook with Vegemite, creating a salty rub before popping it into the oven.

/> Ben O’Donoghue’s Vegemite chicken recipe. Photo: ABC

Sweet like chocolate

Vegemite is not restricted to the savoury world. According to the allegedly edible recipes, you can add it into biscuit mixes, serve it in a chocolate ganache, or make it into a caramel to dip fruit into.

We are still divided about whether the Vegemite icy pole was a good idea though.

What is Vegemite? - Recipes

About Vegemite: Vegemite is a food product which seems to be the most loved food in the Australian Continent. The most iconic of the Australian foods which is made with dark-brown savory spread and got invented in 1922. It is made of a thick spread which contains yeast extract flavored with onion, celery and the other ingredients which are fat-free along with being sugar-free and also vegetarian. Glutten is the only issue related to this food otherwise the food is completely savoury and even New Zealand has find this food to be absolutely a perfect one as the country is somewhat very much fond of making out negative traits about any particular food or it’s harmful effects.

How to make Vegemite: The Vegemite is considered a superfood and is a spread which could be just use like jelly, jam or butter over the desired food. The Vegemite is easy to make with simple ingredients and here are the main ingredients along with how to make the Vegemite:

. 100 Gram Tamari or Coconut Aminos

. 25 Gram Apple Cider Vinegar

. 15 Gram Nutritional Yeast Flakes

. Celery as per requirements

Just mix all the ingredients together in a food processor and then blend it untill it becomes a paste. Pour it out and then put it in the freeze in a bowl and let it freeze till it becomes a bit greasy. Once it gets a thick spread then one can pull it out from the spoon and spread it over the desired food such as loaf or bread and enjoy the delicious food.

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Buy Vegemite in the US or worldwide on Amazon

Aaron on June 08, 2015:

I use Vegemite in one of cheesecake recipes.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on April 04, 2015:

Vegemite is the best! in fact, I&aposm going to have some right now!! Good grief how I miss cheesymites :(

dave wilson on July 01, 2013:

grew up on vegemite, and for me the thicker the better! may explain my love for dark beers too.

Sparky (calif) and . on June 02, 2013:

I have eaten vegamite before..the first time was yikes. hahaha Like a table spoon on small slices of really healthy whole wheat bread and peanut butta nad I am still alive. hahahaa yup..i could be an Aussie..I love you guys down under..yup. i like the barbie and its not the doll either. ok..I will make it a LOT thinner on my bread with some RAW Honey ok..Yum It sounds really good too. now that i got over the tongue culture shock. Thanks folks. I usede to dring Fosters but I stopped as I just dont drink any more. ok. Good Luck There..Sparky

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on November 22, 2012:

Hmmm. Well, I am willing to try anything once. Vegetime sure does seem to be versitle. Thanks for sharing!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on November 22, 2012:

I&aposve seen Vegetime at our supermarket and now I&aposm geared up to try it after reading your hub! I especially like the idea of using it with veggie sandwiches to give them more flavor (or avocado sandwich) and adding it to soup stock for more flavor. Thanks so much! Voted up and shared.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 19, 2012:

Years ago, (back in the early 1980&aposs) when my youngest was in the San Francisco Girls&apos Chorus, we hosted a couple of Aussie girls who were part of the Sidney Linnet Girls&apos Choir, which was on tour. Among other items in their hostess gift packet was a jar of this Vegemite stuff.

We tasted it, and mind you, I&aposm not one to slather on a great dollop of something new--I&aposll try a teeny taste--and even at that, I hated it. It was all I could do to remain polite.

It must, indeed, be an "acquired taste," and I&aposm of the mind that life is too short to waste time forcing yourself to keep trying to eat something you don&apost like to try and &aposlearn to like it.&apos There are so many other options. -) I wish I had realized back then it could be used as vegetable stock I wouldn&apost have tossed it out.

Great hub, though--very interesting and full of ideas and awesome photos!

Voted up, interesting and useful. (and thanks for the follow!)

julie on July 06, 2012:

My favourite - poached eggs on top of toast & vegemite !

Hotlips on June 08, 2012:

Please, what is the melting point of vegemite?

Emm20 on May 29, 2012:

Absolutely adore Vegemite, Im from Australia but live in the UK so they only sell it in tiny jars and I am yet to try the Cheesybite! I miss the huge jars you can get back home :)

Joe on May 02, 2012:

Light toasted bagel,butter 1/2,vegemite 1/2, 6 +- strips bacon. EAT! yummy.

scarletquill99 (author) from Australia on April 12, 2011:


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