1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Vegemite and Marmite
John McCurdy

I just this minute finished a slice of home-made bread toast, slathered with butter and then spread with a very, very thin layer of Vegemite. What the hey you ask is Vegemite? You should ask!

I first heard of it and tasted its British cousin Marmite while at Myrtle Beach camping alongside a Canadian couple who were "Blitz Babies" from London in WW2. They, along with several thousand other children were sent to the countryside to live, sometimes with strangers, but kind-hearted folk, willing to take in the tykes for as long as necessary to protect them from the Nazi bombing of the civilian population of London and other British cities. Rita and John later emigrated to Gardiner Bay in Canada and John became a pilot for Air Canada.

Rita and my wife Pearl, and I had gone to the Shopping Mall at Conway, we had our lunch there, when we returned John informed us he had, "eaten a bit of Marmite" for his lunch. We, Pearl & I had never hear of such a foodstuff. John and Rita explained that the proper British household would never be without a few jars of Marmite for the occasion when friends would "pop in" for tea. I tasted it, and I was not especially impressed with it's salty and strange yeasty taste. I proceeded to forget it, deciding that peanut butter was good enough for me. Several years later we were at friends on Friday Harbor in Puget Sound, after flying the friends father from Virginia .

Several day into our stay, they suggested we might like to use one of their cars and take the ferry and visit Victoria, British Columbia, (known as the most British city in the world, including London)! We did so, had a delightful overnight stay, took tea at the great hotel there and caught the ferry back the next day. While we waited for the ferry, we strolled into a grocers, just to look around, on the shelf I spied a jar of Marmite and its cousin from New Zealand "Vegemite". Keep in mind, that this was in 1987, It was this same jar of Vegemite which has been opened in our refrigerator since then that I had just, "eaten a bit of!" Now that stuff is probably an acquired taste, in fact I know it took me several tries before deciding I liked it. The amazing thing to me it the longevity of the stuff, Maybe it's like I've heard about Limburger Cheese, "what else could happen to it?"

Marmite and Vegemite are by-products of the brewing industry, the malt and the yeasty leftovers. I'm not sure how they are then processed but they enjoy great popularity "over there", and I can't think of many foodstuffs that would survive 20 years in the frig without something happening to it, I take it out periodically and examine it, always amazed there is no mold on it and seemingly tasting just the same as the last time. they may be on to something. When and if my little 115 Gram jar of Vegemite is nearly empty I'll tell you one thing, I'm gonna look for more! Kraft foods makes it.