What Is Vegemite?

When you think of Australia, you probably think of a kangaroo, koala, kookaburra, or another of the continent’s incredible and unique fauna that begin with the letter “k.” But when it comes to Australian food, what’s on the mental menu? As we know, Foster’s is Australian for beer. And of course, there is the storied Outback Steakhouse franchise, but it’s safe to say that a Bloomin’ Onion is not an authentically Australian dish. No, when it comes to food from down under, there is one product that reigns supreme. I am, of course, speaking of Vegemite, the ubiquitous spread that Aussies put on just about everything. I was fortunate enough to try this stuff exactly once, and found it to be pretty distasteful, but what is Vegemite? What’s it made of? Why does it taste like that? Let’s explore! 

What is Vegemite?

Vegemite is a dark brown spread made from yeast extract and a spice mix and it was first developed in Melbourne in 1922. It is still quite popular in Australia and continues to be slightly baffling to Americans.

What does Vegemite taste like?

Vegemite is a classic “acquired taste.” Though many Australians swear by it, for those unfamiliar it can be unpleasantly potent. At least for me as a kid, the beer-like flavor was the most prevalent taste, and not one that I particularly enjoyed. Essentially, the taste of Vegemite is salty, bitter, and malty with umami overtones. 

What is Vegemite made of?

Are you sure you really want an answer to “what’s in Vegemite?” You wouldn’t rather live your life in a state of sweet, blissful ignorance? All right, suit yourself. Actually, despite its off-putting reputation, Vegemite is vegan, halal, and kosher, making it a good choice for those with dietary restrictions. 

The ingredients in Vegemite consist of “Yeast Extract (from Yeast Grown on Barley and Wheat), Salt, Mineral Salt (508), Malt Extract (from Barley), Colour (150c), Flavours, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folate.”

What is a Vegemite sandwich?

If you’re wondering how to eat Vegemite, there’s not really any wrong way. You can put it on a pizza or in pasta, in pastries, or just slather it on a crumpet. There are even recipes available for vegemite ice cream and similar oddities. But one of the most popular ways to enjoy Vegemite is in the form of a Vegemite sandwich. At its most basic, a Vegemite sandwich is two pieces of toasted, buttered bread along with the spread. However, you can also include other ingredients such as cheese, lettuce, or tomato. No need to go too heavy on the Vegemite either—the spread is so flavorful that just a sticky, gooey dollop will do. 

Is Vegemite the same as Marmite? 

Vegemite is only the most notorious of a number of yeast-based savory spreads available worldwide. Brazil has Cenovit, Germany has Vitam-R, Switzerland has Cenovis. The UK’s version is called Marmite, and it actually predates Vegemite—the Australian version was created when World War I led to shortages of Marmite down under. Marmite is sweeter and more syrupy as compared to vegemite’s more powerfully bitter taste and paste texture. 

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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