Happy Birthday Vegemite - 100 today
100 years of Vegemite, the wartime spread that became an Aussie icon
There are roughly 22 million jars of Vegemite manufactured in the original Melbourne factory every year. According to the Vegemite website, around 80% of Australian households have a jar in the cupboard.
Vegemite it was developed by Cyril Callister in Melbourne, Victoria, in 1922, and it first hit stores on October 25, 1923.
is a thick, dark brown Australian food spread made from leftover brewers' yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives
In 1919, following the disruption of British Marmite imports after World War I, the Australian company Fred Walker & Co. gave Cyril Callister the task of developing a spread from the used yeast being dumped by breweries. Callister had been hired by the chairman Fred Walker.
Callister used autolysis to break down the yeast cells from waste obtained from the Carlton & United brewery. Concentrating the clear liquid extract and blending with salt, celery and onion extracts formed a sticky black paste.
Vegemite first appeared on the market in 1923 with advertising emphasising the value of Vegemite to children's health, but it failed to sell well.
Faced with growing competition from Marmite, from 1928 to 1935 the product was renamed "Parwill" to make use of the advertising slogan "Marmite but Parwill", a two-step pun on the new name and that of its competitor; i.e. "If Ma [mother] might... then Pa [father] will." This attempt to expand market share was unsuccessful and the name reverted to Vegemite, but it did not recover its lost market share.
Vegemite is produced in Australia at their Port Melbourne manufacturing facility, which produces more than 22 million jars annually.
Virtually unchanged from Callister's original recipe, Vegemite now far outsells Marmite and other similar spreads in Australia.
The billionth jar of Vegemite was produced in October 2008.
One ad told Australians:
This clever advertising linked Vegemite with Australian nationalism. Though most could not buy the spread during the rationing years, the idea that Vegemite was vital for the armed forces cemented the idea that Vegemite was fundamentally Australian.
Dr Cyril P. Callister