Marmite—a great British institution. Good enough to receive a ban in Canada! And right up there with Bovril.
Spread it on your toast and revel in your nationalistic sense of superiority! But how do they make the stuff?
A Bit About Marmite
Right, so this highly salty product is either a love/hate thing. The company has always riffed on that in its marketing communications.
There is no indifference to Marmite. Only love or hatred.
Why? Simply as some people love it. Others detest the stuff. It’s pungent as all hell and packs a mighty punch.
We edited this post a few days after publication to add in more information, as it’s clear some folks in North America have no idea what it is.
This guide from The Guardian about marmite contains nuggets of information:
“Marmite is a thick, sticky paste made from concentrated yeast extract, a by-product from brewing beer. German scientist Justus Liebig accidentally invented the concoction in 1902. Marmite has a very distinctive flavour. The taste is so unique as to defy description, but think of a yeasty, salty, soy sauce-esque flavour with the consistency of old engine oil. Some people really like eating it, and some people don’t like eating it at all.”
Well, we’re big fans. It has an addictive quality. Although it’s high in salt, so perhaps back off from swallowing a jar in one sitting.
But if you’re part of the pro-Marmite club then you get our official seal of approval.
As for eating the stuff, in most instances you’ll add it to some toast. The Bovril drink is quite similar to it. Plus, once there was a Marmite Easter egg!
It’s quite difficult to describe the taste, really. It’s like a heavy punch—like thick oil from an old bus’ engine or something. Except tastier.
The Making of Marmite
Is it healthy? Sort of. Obviously, there’s that vast salt content. But studies show yeast-based extracts can reduce anxiety and stress. One states:
“A significant improvement was noted in anxiety and stress [of the 520 participants] but not depressive symptoms in those consuming YBS. Furthermore, those who consumed vitamin B12 fortified YBS showed even greater improvement in stress symptomology. Vitamin B supplementation appears to be an important additive supplementary source to improved stress and anxiety in the general adult population.”
Alongside Marmite we have Twiglets. They’re excellent for anyone looking to satisfy their lust for yeast-based foodstuffs.
Mr. Bean even riffed off Twiglets in one of his episodes. The Christmas one, if we remember correctly.
But even if you think Marmite has no more secrets. There are more secrets.
If Ade Edmondson is a fan of Marmite, then we’re a fan of Marmite.
We also know actors Emily Blunt and James McAvoy are fans. So there’s something. A list Hollywood celebrities like the stuff.
A Brief History of Marmite
We’re not sure how it became such an English tradition—along with baked beans on toast and that famous recipe. It’s a relentless source of debate here in the UK.
Referring back to The Guardian piece, journalist Adam Gabbatt correctly describes the adoration as follows:
“Because Marmite, like the Queen, the stiffer upper lip, and getting really drunk, is something that is seen as uniquely British.”
Over in Australia there’s Vegemite, which is more or less the same thing. And our research points out there’s a New Zealand version as well. Also called Marmite.
The NZ variety has existed since 1919. The Australasian variety is by Sanatorium Health and Wellbeing Company. The blurb on the box says, “Go ahead – Dig in!”
We can’t quite figure out any real difference between the Aussie, Kiwi, and Brit versions but.. what the hey? It’s yeast extract, dammit, so let’s make this complicated!
Further research revealed a 2011 NZ shortage of Marmite. This followed the tragic 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
But it also resulted in panic buying of the yeast extract. Some people took to selling the stuff for NZ$800.
Meanwhile, as our great friend Bill Nighy confirms further above, Marmite is banned in Canada. Oh, Canada.
What the bloody hell? Well, you know what Canadians?! This is why we’re leaving the European Union! We took our country back for reasons like this!
Marmite. Salt of t’ English world.