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Marmite vs Vegemite

Which is Best - an Argument that has Raged Forever

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Marmite vs Vegemite
Duncan Hull/Flickr

British favorite, Marmite, is a rich, dark-brown, yeasty spread for hot toast, on wafer biscuits, as a hot drink or a sandwich filling. Marmite lovers will tell you it is good on or in almost anything! The spread has a dense, salty flavor and must be used sparingly. Marmite is made from yeast extract (a by-product of the brewing industry) and is a rich source of vitamin B complex. Statistics say that 25% of Britons take Marmite with them when traveling. Marmite have also released a new spread, Marmite XO, it is an aged version of the original spread and said by some to taste more like the Marmite of their childhood.

Vegemite on the other-hand is from Australia (though it can be bought in the UK), and is also a yeast extract spread.

Given, therefore, that they are both yeast extracts, surely they should taste the same but apparently there is a distinct difference in the two flavours and as Vegemite has more added flavours, colouring and additives than the more natural Marmite, does that make one batter than the other?

Marmite vs Vegemite, the Taste Test

A trip to Australia brought my first encounter with Vegemite on its home turf so I decided it was time to see if I could tell the difference between not only Vegemite and Marmite, but threw the new XO into the mix as well.

I am not sure the 'blind' tasting would hold up to scientific scrutiny, just three slices of hot buttered brown toast, each spread with an equal amount of spread. A bite of each and the differences were (to me) apparent straight away.
  • XO was easy to spot as it not only had a denser, richer flavour, the colour was darker than I was used to and the texture, thicker and stickier.
  • Marmite original was easy as it is a flavour I am well used to. The saltiness is balanced by a slight sweetness with a smooth, silky texture.
  • The Vegemite, I am sorry to say I didn't like, despite wanting to. I found something in the smell slightly off-putting, though I couldn't quite put my finger on why, and the flavour was weak and insipid with a tangy after taste which I found unappealing.
My (Australian) friend, a Marmite lover had much the same reaction.

I was genuinely surprised that the two products are so completely different and for me the "Mite that is right is Marmite and I hardly care if it is XO or the traditional one, I love both.

So, I guess the debate rolls on and an answer to is Marmite better than Vegemite still elusive. It's all just a matter of personal taste I guess.

Good fun, as is this book The Mish-mash Dictionary of Marmite. All you need on the famous 'Tar in a Jar." A great gift if you have a Marmite lover in your midst.

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