Vegemite – The Nectar Of The Gods – At Least For Aussies!


Last year Oprah Winfrey visited Australia and did some shows at the Sydney Opera House. At one of the shows actor Hugh Jackman flew in on a highwire and crashed into a camera stand. He was somewhat injured. Hugh presented Oprah with a vegemite sandwich! She was not totally impressed.

Origins Of Vegemite

Few foods stir the Australian soul more than Vegemite. Launched in Australia by the Fred Walker Cheese Company in 1922, this black paste didn’t take off until the 1930s. It was soon sold to Kraft, a giant American company and they have owned it ever since. Vegemite is a very closely guarded secret. While working in the Scientific Instrument industry, I had to visit the laboratory in Sydney. They were very careful to guide me only to safe places. The smell in the place was pungent, Vegemite being mainly made of Yeast, a discard of the beer manufacturing process! The factory in Sydney is located next to a former brewery. How Australian is that!

A Staple Food

I was weaned on Vegemite. Nearly every Aussie kid eats vegemite sandwiches, and it is used as a flavour enhancer in cooking. There are over 23 million jars sold each year in Australia, one for every person in the country! My 6 year old daughter loves it. Vegemite is one of the world’s richest known sources of B vitamins, specifically thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid.

One of the more unusual ways we used to eat vegemite was on Vitawheet biscuits. They had small holes and the vegemite used to squeeze out like worms. Alas, these biscuits no longer have the holes!

Who Eats Vegemite?

Basically Australians. The only other country I know of where people eat this is South Africa. This makes Vegemite a very unique Australian food. So much so that when an Aussie smells that yeast aroma in some distant corner of the planet, there is great excitement and anticipation.

My Vegemite Travels

I left Australia back in 1974 to see the world. I lived in South Africa for a while and Aussies there had vegemite shipped from home regularly. Then I went to South America. Now things were different back then. Only two years before the CIA had shot the president of Chile, Allende, in Argentina, people were disappearing daily following a military coup six weeks before our arrival, the whole continent was on edge with check points all over and soldiers patrolling many towns.

Lima, Peru

After 3 months of backpacking and travelling to strange places to photograph the remaining steam trains in the area, I wound up in the Europa hotel in Lima, opposite the famous catacombs. I had some strange experiences in this place. One day I was resting in my bed and fell asleep. I felt myself rise up above the bed, woke up and looked down at myself lying there! I quickly went back into my body! At the time I wasn’t into the occult, and it was a very real out of body experience, although I know sceptics will find some logical explanation.

Anyway, one day two young Aussie girls turned up and announced they had a jar of vegemite. Within about 10 minutes every Australian in the area, including me was in their room tasting small rations of vegemite and Saos, one of the biscuits every Aussie child eats. It was a real taste of home. Back then, their weren’t so many tourists, and facilities were modest. The most expensive hotel in Peru, the Lima Sheraton, cost $36 a night! Hard to imagine now.

Mexico

Well I moved north and two months later I couldn’t stand it anymore. I wrote to my mum and asked her to send a jar over. We were in Puerto Escondido in southern Mexico, now a famous surfing venue, then an almost isolated beach. We would get oysters from the sea and barbeque them in an open fire until they opened – yum! The Europeans were all bathing in the nude, it was a wild time.

The jar of vegemite turned up, and in an instant I was the most popular boy in town! Most of those staying in the caravan park were Aussie surfers, and this was something special for them. I think this time mum sent some Jatz, another biscuit over to have with the Vegemite.

New York City

Years later in 1987, I attended a Personal Development Course in New York. I was there for over 6 months. After some investigations, I discovered a chemist on 65th Street East Side that sold Vegemite. I was a regular shopper there. I was the only Aussie on the course and no one else wanted to try the stuff!

I believe Vegemite is now banned in the SU because it has folic acid in it! It is unbelievable how our governments are trying to steal our health these days!

Well, Vegemite is still owned by Craft, and really hasn’t taken on outside Australia. I don’t know why, because it is one of the most delicious foods there is – but then I was weaned on the stuff!

If you have tried Vegemite, leave a comment with your experiences, good or bad.

Comments

  1. John,
    I never herd of it before today. I guess it depends on your acquired taste. It may be something I would give a try if I knew what all the benefits are. Love to see a list of what is in it.

    This goes to show how business can work in one area and never really take off in others. It is a matter of taste and that is the bottom line.

    John, your a great visionary in our industry and this story was amazing. You are a great story teller and should continue to share these exciting travels with us. I look forward to your next post.
    William Earl Amis Jr III recently posted..Your Passion Is Your BusinessMy Profile

  2. Thank You John
    I sorry to say John I have not heard or tasted this product, I will have to check it out on my next shopping day.
    It sounds like it would be a good product to try.
    Thank You for your travel stories
    Sharon
    Sharon Johnson recently posted..Branding and How Effective It IsMy Profile

    • John Gaydon says:

      Thanks Sharon. I discovered you can get Vegemite from Amazon.com, although it is about 3 times the price we pay here. There is a lot of controversy when you search on Google about whether the US has banned it for sale or not. Apparently it is OK for personal use! Aussies will kill to get some when travelling.

  3. Never heard of Vegemite before. It sounds like it would be good for you.
    Melodie Kantner recently posted..Three Mistakes That Will Shipwreck Your Network Marketing BusinessMy Profile

  4. I’ve never tried it. Is it possible to get it in Europe? If it is so delicious, I would like to try it. I like trying new things. Thanks for sharing it!
    Edyta recently posted..Panic Away Review – An Honest Opinion of the Most Revolutionary Anti-anxiety Program AroundMy Profile

  5. I’ve never tasted Vegemite even though I’ve heard of it ever since Men At Work sand their Down Under song. I have an Aussie friend staying with me right now so we talked about Vegemite. She says her cats won’t eat their TUNA! without a touch of Vegemite on it. Go figure!

    RICK
    Rick Lelchuk recently posted..Things That Go Bump in the Night and a Tool to Uncover Ones PainMy Profile

  6. Very interesting information. You just educated me about Vegemite, which is the first time I am exposed to it. I like to read about all the nutrients in it, it is amazing how much it can improve our health. Thanks so much for sharing.
    alicia@yboggle recently posted..A Cruising Adventure for Real SailorsMy Profile

  7. Hi John,

    Congrats for making the “Top 50”. Rare air!

    A best friend in high school was an Aussie, but he never offer me Vegemite. I later won a printing contract for 100,000 Vegemite instruction booklets…and still didn’t give it a try.

    I will someday…I promise!
    Tom Bradley recently posted..Why Latinos Out Produce Gringos In Network MarketingMy Profile

    • John Gaydon says:

      HI Tom,

      It appears just about everyone has a “vegemite” story.

      Who would have thought!

      Your friend either couldn’t get hold of it, or he was keeping it for himself!

      Still, I don’t know why the US banned it! You can’t get it even if you want it now. They don’t like Folate in your country!

      Cheers,
      John

  8. I TRIED to like it John, I really, really did! I’ve been fortunate to have visited Australia a dozen times over the years – literally travelled from coast to coast with the Hawaii Travel Bureau. Every trip I attempted again to aquire a test for Vegemite and it just didn’t happen. But in all fairness, I’ll bet if you came to visit me here in Maui you might have a similarly difficult time aquiring a taste for poi (Hawaiian staple made from taro root) – and I love it! Thanks for the memories 🙂
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