President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed a room of schoolchildren in Virginia on March 7. Over the course of their visit, one child asked the distinguished world leaders about Vegemite— one of Australia's most notorious food products. Gillard said, "I love Vegemite," but Obama called it "horrible." Much has been made of the food, but little is known about it. Here's some quick information:
In 1922, Fred Walker decided that the world needed a spread made from "yeast extracts" that would be delicious and nutritious as well. Dr. Cyril P. Callister was the chief scientist then, and developed a spread from brewer's yeast extracts and vegetables (like celery and onion). At that time Australia already had a spread called Marmite and sales were initially very slow for the new "Vegemite."
With time, the spread took off and was adopted by the Australian people as a national treasure. Today, children eat Vegemite from a young age. Most people outside of the country consider it an acquired taste. The spread gained international recognition when "Men at Work" mentioned Vegemite in their hit song "Down Under."
The storied product has gone through a recent image redesign in Australia. Parents were concerned about the level of salt in the product, so Kraft (who produces Vegemite) cut salt and boosted vitamins in "My First Vegemite," a new product created with young children in mind.
Photo by Flickr user Scootie