The news that Kraft are launching a new smoother and as yet unnamed version of Vegemite reminded me more than a little of the Coca Cola corporation’s ill fated and patently ill advised New Coke embarrassment of the mid 80s. In an attempt combat slumping sales, the world’s biggest purveyor of Type 2 diabetes in a can decided to reformulate the iconic ‘drink’. It failed spectacularly, nearly ruined the company and went down in the history books as one of the greatest marketing failures of all time.
The lesson one could take away from this is pretty simple- don’t screw with icons. Kraft have at least had the good sense to launch this new apparently ‘no butter required’, super spreadable Vegemite alongside the original and fiercely loved product rather than simply replacing it altogether- as was Cokes big mistake with New Coke.
But anyway, does the world really need a new Vegemite?
Personally I’m not even convinced it needs the current Vegemite- I’m a Marmite person through and through. I know however, that a lot of you will violently disagree, because for reasons unknown, we take our salty, yeast based spreads rather seriously in this part of the world. There is no greater divider down under than the Vegemite Vs Marmite debate.
I’m very fussy about my Marmite too. I only buy very small jars because I like it best when it’s very fresh. I don’t like others to use my jar because I can’t stand it being contaminated with crumbs and butter. My all time favourite way of eating Marmite is on crunchy slices of fresh, thickly buttered baguette, but I also enjoy it on Vogel’s toast with scrambled eggs and on toasted hot cross buns.
So in my little sphere there is no yeast spread but Marmite- and I mean New Zealand Marmite [have you tried the ghastly UK version?], all others are mere pretenders.
But this is a deadly serious topic- just ask around. New Zealanders are some of the most reserved- and dare I say it apathetic people you will ever meet- the only two topics that really get us hot under the collar are sport [based on distant memories of us being good at it,I suppose] and yeast spreads. What does this say about us as a nation?
So- let’s put it to a vote:
Vegemite or Marmite?