Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Vegemite

Vegemite, love it or hate it but it certainly has an enduring iconic status in Australia and in New Zealand.

Vegemite was invented in Melbourne in 1922 by food chemist Cyril P Callister (1893-1949), who was employed by Australian food manufacturer Fred Walker and Co. The brief given to Callister was to produce a product similar to British Marmite. Callister went on to create Vegemite using spent brewer's yeast and a secret recipe that he perfected by testing samples on his family.

Vegemite was not initially very successful. It wasn't until WWII, when Vegemite was given to soldiers in their rations (because Marmite was unavailable), that it captured the Australian market and the hearts of its citizens. Subsequent research into the health benefits of Vegemite (it is a rich source of B vitamins) have only added to its popularity.

Ref: Marmite and toast, Wikimedia Commons
In the 1990s, Jamie Callister, started to research his grandfather Cyril's creation. He was given access to Kraft's archives and interviewed family members about the grandfather he never got to meet. He has turned all of this information into a book entitled, 'The Man Who Invented Vegemite'.

New Zealand Vegemite was produced in New Zealand for fifty years, up until 2006, when production ceased.

Find out more and have a look how the bottling jars have changed overtime through the holdings of the Powerhouse Museum.

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