As any fair dinkum Aussie will tell you, there is nothing quite like the taste of Vegemite on your toast in the mornings. Sure, I have it every day, and have had since I was a tot, when my Mum first introduced it to me on teething rusks. Anyone that remembers teething rusks, is like nomming on a twig. Okay, so getting back to the story. Most Australian households will have Vegemite in their panty or fridge, and its been part of our heritage for many years. Now some of you might be wondering just what Vegemite is.
VEGEMITE spread is a nutritious and versatile food. Proudly made in Australia, it’s one of the world’s richest known sources of Vitamin B.
VEGEMITE spread is virtually fat-free, with a mere 40kJ in a 5g serve, and is the perfect accompaniment for a wholesome, breakfast, lunch or snack. It’s far more tooth and gum friendly than jams or choc nut spreads, without compromising on taste. In fact, its unique and delicious flavour is what distinguishes the VEGEMITE brand.
VEGEMITE spread contains no artificial colours or flavours, and has absolutely no added sugar. It is suitable for vegetarians, is kosher and halal certified and contains rich sources of thiamine. 25% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of riboflavin and niacin are delivered per serve, as well as 50% of the RDI of folate, or 25% for women of childbearing age.
The B Vitamins in VEGEMITE spread assist in converting carbohydrates, proteins and fats in food into much needed energy and are also important for proper functioning of the nervous system, muscles and brain. Folate aids in producing red cells in the body and niacin helps to maintain healthy skin and a healthy digestive tract.
The History of Vegemite.
- A young chemist named Dr. Cyril P Callister, hired by the Fred Walker Company, develops a remarkable and distinguished new spread from brewer’s yeast.
- It’s appealing taste is backed up by its credentials as being one of the world’s richest known sources of natural Vitamin B.
- It is sold in a two ounce (57g) amber glass jar, capped with what was known as a Phoenix seal, to keep the contents fresh.
- It is labelled ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’.
- Fred Walker runs a competition inviting the Australian public to create a name for the new spread. A prize of 50 pounds – a sizeable sum for that era – is placed into a prize pool for finalists.
- Hundreds of people enter. Fred Walker’s daughter selects the winning name: VEGEMITE. The name of the winning entrant is not placed on record.
- VEGEMITE spread begins being sold from grocers’ shelves.
- It is described as delicious on sandwiches and toast, and as improving the flavour of soups, stews and gravies.
- Its flavour and nutritional qualities do not catch on with the Australian public.
- Initial sales are slow.
- VEGEMITE spread is available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2 ounce opal glass jars to 6 pound tins.
- VEGEMITE spread sales receive a boost when redemption coupons are included in packs of cheddar cheese.
- Its reputation as a tasty, nutritious food starts to catch on Australia wide.
- Fred Walker passes away, leaving the company to continue his tradition of innovation.
- In a time of great change for the Australian household landscape, the electric toaster makes its debut, a device that later becomes synonymous with the VEGEMITE brand.
- The Kraft Walker Company launches a promotion with substantial prizes – including imported Pontiac automobiles – asking people to create a limerick for the VEGEMITE brand. The hugely successful promotion sees a jump in VEGEMITE spread sales on a mass scale Australia wide.
- The winning limerick, much like the naming competition of 1923, is not recorded, or has been lost in time.
- VEGEMITE spread gains official product endorsement from the British Medical Association. This endorsement feat allows the VEGEMITE brand to be advertised in the British Medical Journal, and sees medical professionals and baby care experts recommending VEGEMITE spread as a Vitamin B rich, nutritionally balanced food for their patients.
- During World World II the Armed Forces were buying VEGEMITE spread in bulk, due to the product’s nutritional value. Fred Walker’s company had to ration VEGEMITE spread on a per capita basis across Australia in order to meet the demand.
- The VEGEMITE brand celebrates its 20th birthday.
- VEGEMITE spread has secured its place in the homes and pantries of Australians.
- VEGEMITE brand packaging features many new promotional labels, often with famous Disney characters like Mickey Mouse (then only a toddler) and Donald Duck. This form of marketing and promotion is quite successful with children.
- VEGEMITE spread clarifies its content with the label description ‘Concentrated Yeast Extract’.
- Post-war prosperity leads to a boom in VEGEMITE spread sales.
- The baby boom proves a strong market, after baby care experts, such as Sister McDonald, are quoted in the Women’s Weekly saying “VEGEMITE spread is most essential,” and further cementing VEGEMITE spread’s reputation for nutrition and wholesomeness.
- The VEGEMITE brand reflects its association with the American company Kraft.
- For the first time, Kraft’s logo – a K in a hexagon – appears on the VEGEMITE spread label.
- The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle is aired on radio, and captures the essence of the time and promotes the idea of a healthy, ‘lucky country’ where living standards are rising rapidly.
- The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle is turned into an advertisement for television, at the same time broadcasting of the Olympic Games begins in Melbourne.
- VEGEMITE spread becomes available in a lightweight, clear glass jar.
- Coles supermarket, first trading as Dickins, opens in Victoria and Woolworths opens in New South Wales – ensuring sales and stock of the extremely popular VEGEMITE brand.
- The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle makes a comeback in advertising.
- The VEGEMITE label, despite all the social changes occurring nation wide, resists change and continues to stand for nutrition and quality.
- The VEGEMITE brand initiates an advertising feature called ‘The Three Ages of Man’. It reinforces the notion that VEGEMITE spread is important in the diet of children, teenagers and adults – everyone from 7 to 70 years of age. This campaign continues for 2 years.
- The VEGEMITE label changes; rounded corners are added to the diamond and the Kraft logo is moved up and over the lower end of the diamond, transforming into a logo much more similar to the one we know today.
- A new advertising campaign for radio and magazines launches, using the phrase, “Pass the VEGEMITE please Mum.” It becomes a very popular turn of phrase.
- The “Pass the VEGEMITE please Mum,” advertising campaign is reworked into a colour television commercial.
- The VEGEMITE brand uses three prominent Australians in their advertising campaign directed at teenagers and young adults – champion racing car driver Peter Brock, tennis legend Ken Rosewall and award winning actress Helen Morse.
- To mark the exact place where VEGEMITE spread was discovered 60 years earlier, a plaque is unveiled at Kerford Road in Canterbury,Port Melbourne.
- “Do you know what I really like?” becomes VEGEMITE spreads advertising slogan.
- In April, a 115g jar of VEGEMITE spread makes supermarket history in Australia by becoming the first product to be electronically scanned at a checkout.
- It was scanned at Woolworths in Chullora, NSW and the price was 66 cents.
- The product is still on display at the Woolworths head office in NSW.
- A national television advertising campaign is launched, using the, “Do you know what I really like?” slogan from 1983.
- A new commercial for the VEGEMITE brand is filmed, using Super-8 to achieve a home movie feel. It is accompanied by the ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle and continues to circulate the importance of VEGEMITE spread’s nutritional benefit to growing children.
- Yellow, tamper-evident lids replace traditional metal ones, which ensures VEGEMITE spread reaches consumers in exactly the same way it was prepared in the factory.
- A VEGEMITE brand exhibition is staged at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, during the July school holidays. The exhibition features original jars and promotional material dating back to the birth of the VEGEMITE brand in 1922.
- The majority of jars collected from the early years of VEGEMITE spread came from the Australian public following a national search for historical VEGEMITE brand memorabilia.
- The new millennium kicks off with the chance to collect your own VEGEMITE branded plate. The limited edition design, only available when buying VEGEMITE spread, features the theme, ‘The future is as bright as bright can be’.
- A new television commercial and colourful supermarket displays are created specifically to support the promotion, and the response is overwhelming.
- The VEGEMITE logo is embossed on to the top of the lid, and the back label is printed with a short story on how Australia’s favourite spread came to be.
- The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ Awards are re-launched with the new ‘The future is as bright as bright can be’ theme. Over 450 entries are received and Craigmore Christian College in South Australia is chosen as the national winner, collecting $78,000 to use on educational facilities.
- The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ Awards are broadcast on the VEGEMITE website and all winning entries are posted for viewing.
So as you can see, Aussies have been enjoying Vegemite for over 91 years. But will it ever catch on in the US?