Obama fails vegemite test


Julia Gillard’s attempts to convert Barack Obama to vegemite failed.

She shouldn’t have tried.

Every country has food which is peculiar to it. If you’re not born there and grow up eating it you’re very unlikely to acquire a taste for it.

Vegemite is one of those. Partiality to it is peculiar to Australians and New Zealanders.

You might get away with offering someone a thin scraping on cheese toasties which moderates the flavour. But trying to convert people not born and bred appreciating its unique attractions isn’t worth the effort.

Vegemite gets cream cheese makeover


Manufacturers meddle with iconic brands at their peril so no doubt Kraft has put a lot of thought into the new variation on vegemite which is a mixutre of the spread we know mixed with cream cheese.

If the publicity is to be believed  the result is:

. . . a smoother, more spreadable consistency.

 Simon Talbot, Kraft Australia’s head of corporate affairs, said the new product was given to 600 homes for testing and came back with overwhelmingly positive results.

‘It’s a milder version, more suited to dipping celery or carrots, easy to spread. It’s a different flavor profile but still distinctly Vegemite.’

Vegemite is one of the things which unites New Zealanders and Australians because few people not born in either of these countries learn to appreciate the taste.

Vegemite and cheese sandwiches are still a staple of many school lunches and even featured in Men at Work’s song Land Down Under.

I have managed to disguise vegemite on cheese toasties and feed them to visitors who said they enjoyed them. But naked vegemite is very much an acquired taste and even though I acquired  it many years ago I prefer it scaped on toast in small amounts rather than spread liberally.

One of the benefits of vegemite is that it has few calories, and tiny amounts of fat and sugar. Adding cream cheese changes that, but a nutritional diet needs some fat and sugar so the new spread wouldn’t by itself be ‘unhealthy’.

When it’s launched early next month it will carry a label saying name me.

The contest is open-ended as Kraft selects the best name for the Vegemite partner.

‘It’s in the hands of the Australian and New Zealand people,’ Mr Talbot said.

And the proof of the new product will be in their mouths.

The new, creamier spread that is due to be on store shelves by July 5. Consumers Down Under will be able to pick the name of the new Kraft treat

Top 10 quintessential Kiwi foods


Adam Smith started it at Inquiring Mind with

1  Bluff Oysters in batter

2 Pavlova

3 Meat Pie

4 ANZAC Biscuits

5 Colonial Goose

6 Mince on toast

7 Whitebait fritters

8 Crayfish

9 Blue cod & chips

10 Whitestone cheese

Adolf carried it on at No Minister with:

1. Roast lamb (Merino/South Suffolk cross – killed at 14 months) and mint sauce, accompanied by steamed new potaoes, fresh green peas and sweet corn on the cob, all with lashings of butter.

2. Carefully prepared Maori hangi – pork, mutton, potato, kumara, beet root, puha.

3. Steamed pipi, cockles and kutai (mussels) with lots of fresh bread and butter.

4. Steamed Tarakihi or Hapuka with mashed potato and kumara (combined) and plenty of fresh greens. Plenty of salt and cracked black pepper along with lemon juice over the fish.

5. An eighteen inch long slab of sirloin steak, turned on the char grill for forty minutes while continually basted in a brew compising red wine, worchester sauce, tomato sauce, hot chilli sauce, garlic, soy sauce, balsamic viegar and any thing else which gets in the road. Black on the outside, nipple pink in the middle. Char grilled vegies on the side.

6. Steam pudding with custard sauce.

7. Roast chicken with roast vegies and silver beet. Lotsa gravy.

8. Bacon and eggs with baked beans and tomato.

9. TipTop Icecream

10. KFC for South Aucklanders.

And my list, based on the food I miss most when out of the country, in no particular order is:

1. Vogels bread, toasted with cottage cheese and kiwi fruit or vegemite, cottage cheese and tomato.

2. Hokey pokey ice cream.

3. Pavlova topped with cream and kiwifruit.

4. Lamb backstraps, topped with grainy mustard and soy sauce, grilled until still pink, served with broccoli, carrots, roasted red onion and kumera.

5. Blue cod from Fleurs Place.

6. Waitaki Valley strawberries.

7. Central Otago apricots and peaches.

8. Totara Lowlands cherries.

9. Milkshakes

10. Fresh asaparagus with Whitestone Windsor Blue cheese.

And an extra one: my favourite childhood dinner (which I probably haven’t had for more than 30 years): Roast mutton with roast potatoes, mint sauce, gravy and mashed swedes.

Vegemite victim of Aussie food police


If anyone suggested I ate the same thing for lunch and dinner day after day I’d rebel.

But if I’m at home my breakfast hardly varies: two pieces of toast (Burgen soy & linseed or Vogels sunflower and barley) with a scraping of vegemite, topped by cottage cheese and tomato in summer and in winter I forgo the vegemite and replace the tomato with kiwifruit.


It’s just what the dieticians order and one of the reasons I dislike hotel breakfasts is because I find it difficult to get something with the same mix of low fat, low sugar, some fibre, vitamins, protein and a tiny bit of calcium from anything they offer.

Vegemite is a peculiarly Australian and New Zealand phenomenon and not to be confused with marmite which is also found in Britain but different from and inferior in taste to the antipodean spread.

So I read with concern that the Aussie food police  have their sights set on vegemite because of it’s high salt content.

A meal with an 8% salt content would be bad for the health and probably unpalatable too but vegemite is used in tiny amounts. I doubt if I use a teaspoon in total on two bits of toast and 8% of less than a teaspoon is nothing to worry about, especially when a blood test a couple of years ago showed I’d been taking the low salt, lots of water advice to the extreme so was low in sodium and advised to add salt to my food.

And that’s what’s wrong with so many of these well intended but misguided attacks on people’s eating habits. It’s not just what we eat but how much, how little and how often we eat and drink combined with how much or how little exercise we do that matters.

As Jim Hopkins  puts it, there’s no junk food only junk diets and small amounts of vegemite do not a junk diet make.

Hat Tip: Pundit

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