No Thanks New Zealand, You Can Keep Your Emergency Marmite Tube

“What is this?” I had to ask when I saw the small Marmite tube on our counter. I now live in New Zealand, so of course I do know what Marmite is. Some call it an iconic New Zealand treat, others a nutritious and delicious spread, while the less creative folks just call it a yeast extract.

marmite tube

Not me, I hate Marmite! (So my question should have been, what is that Marmite tube doing on my counter?)

I was first introduced to this Kiwi icon about a week after we arrived in New Zealand. Another American expat took me to the grocery store to share with me her wisdom, acquired from living here for a while and being married to a Kiwi. She simplified my transition:

“Heinz is now Watties, ketchup is now tomato sauce, cookies are now biscuits, biscuits are now scones, white American table sugar is now caster sugar, and most importantly . . . This is Marmite:


And every Kiwi kitchen has to have a jar.”

That was my transition period, and generally enjoyable.  We found several New Zealand originals that awoke our taste buds with pleasure like chocolate-caramel slice or pavlova.

Then there was the Marmite.  In an effort to adapt to our new culture and to share in some of its delicacy, we dove right in.  That very shopping day I made toast for the girls, spread thinly with our “soon to be new favorite food,” Marmite. As the spread looks quite a bit like a Nutella or chocolate spread, the girls and I enthusiastically took bites.

We won’t make that mistake again!  I am fairly sure one of our girls asked if I was trying to poison them, while the other wanted to know if I didn’t like them anymore.

To date there are only three things I have discovered which are worse than New Zealand’s Marmite.  They would be:

  1. The even saltier Bristish version of Marmite.
  2. The similar, although even more disgusting Australian copy called Vegemite,
  3. Any of the fried insects or random animal parts we saw on Wangfujing Street in Beijing, China.

Well, that Marmite tube is still there, sitting on the edge of our kitchen counter, taunting me.  I realize it looks huge in the image above , but really it’s quite tiny:

marmite tube

Lucky for me, I have an artist in the family, and one who also hates Brussels Spouts.  We finally have a perfect use for that Marmite tube:

Marmite Tube art

Image ©Melissa Albom 2013.  All rights reserved.

 When it comes to Marmite, or any thing like it, I guess I am aligned with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who  said in 2010 (while in Australia): “I’ve never understood why you would ruin a perfectly good slice of bread with Vegemite.”

Now that I have admitted this, I hope I will be allowed to stay in New Zealand.

Have you tried Marmite? Or even worse, Vegemite?  Do you love it or hate it? Would you add the Marmite tube to your emergency kit?

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  1. says

    I’m flabbergasted! While nobody in their right mind would willingly consume Marmite except, perhaps, for a great deal of money, how can you not love the bracing bouquet of warm toast lovingly spread with refreshing, restorative and, yes, rejuvenating Vegemite? I don’t understand you. Not at all

    • Rhonda Albom says

      I partially agree, no one in their right mind should consume Marmite. It’s awful, just like Vegemite and the British Marmite. I don’t understand you. Not at all.

  2. says

    “more disgusting Australian copy called Vegemite” … what the????? Those a re fair dinkim fighting words!!! But I suppose what can one expect from someone who comes from the land where they put peanut butter with jam/jelly … erk!

    I could NOT start the day without some vegemite spread on my toast. Seriously!

    • Rhonda Albom says

      It took me nearly as long to understand fair dinkim as to get my head around how people actually enjoy any of the yeast extract spreads.

      • says

        It’s Vegemite’s 90th birthday this month and for every LIKE they get on their FB page they will donate a jar of Vegemite to a foodbank … up to 90k jars.

        And you must come visit my Vegemite collection … yes I even collect the paraphernalia.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      It’s a yeast extract. A spread to put on toast that has a flavor that people generally either love or hate. I am on the hate side.

  3. Alyson says

    I have tasted the Kiwi Marmite only once, in error, it was so devastatingly putrid that I will never touch it again. I thought ( as a new UK expat downunder) it was British Marmite in a different wrapper. It’s not, it contains SUGAR!!! Ewwwwww!!! British Marmite is sold as ” Our Mate” in Oz.

  4. says

    I quite like Marmite on toast only thinly spread though and not too often LOL

    I have never seen it in a tube before and if it’s saltier then I probably would give it a miss, although I like your keyboard :mrgreen:

    I think Melissa has the better use for it LOL

    i haven’t had Vegemite even though it’s available in the shops here.

    Have a marmiteless week 😉

  5. says

    Hi Rhonda .. I LOVE IT!!!!! Not so keen on vegemite … but great creative painting though .. I LOVE Brussels sprouts too! Already had some this season. I’d love to have a tube of marmite .. but I do enjoy the jars we have … and have had since I was a kid – it’s a standard!!

    Enjoy something this weekend .. not making a mess … cheers – great post though .. Hilary

  6. says

    I’ve not heard of this until today, but I’m telling you that after reading your review I’m never going to add this to anything. Sounds awful.

    Have a fabulous day. 🙂

    • Rhonda Albom says

      When are you headed over this way?
      BTW, I found your last comments in the spam, but it looks like it is fixed now.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      It’s especially important to know for chocolate lovers so you don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a chocolate spread.

    • Rhonda Albom says

      Those who love one of them think they are different, but those of us who hate it, think they all taste pretty much the same.

  7. Tracy says

    I never liked vegemite until I had morning sickness with my first child and vegemite on toast was about the only thing I could stomach to eat. Now I really like it.

    I’ve never painted with it but if you have a flavourless stew or bolognaise a tiny (TINY!) amount helps. I’ve actually considered travelling with it because the stuff is so salty and sticky it makes a great mouth ulcer cream!

  8. Lisa Ross says

    I love marmite, don’t like vegemite but I don’t think it’s that healthy. Good for vitamin B but high in natural MSG, has additive caramel III and sugar.
    How Americans feel about marmite is probably the same as how kiwis feel about peanut butter and jelly 🙂 (Sean can’t tolerate marmite either)

    • Rhonda Albom says

      I don’t taste the difference between marmite and vegemite. I can’t quite get how someone likes either, nor how someone doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly.

  9. says

    OMG!!! Ewwwww! I can’t eat things that come out of toothpaste tubes!!! But I’ve always been a picky eater. Cept for pie… I’ll eat the frak out of some pie.



  10. Christine Larsen says

    Once upon a time our eldest son (9) told our daughter (6) that the creosote on our farm fence posts was Vegemite and to have a lick. And she did… and came in to me screaming (for anyone who doesn’t know, creosote burns the mouth SO badly – that’s why it’s on these posts, to keep all munchers at bay). Amazingly, she still loves Vegemite, 22 years later, and equally amazingly, our son is still alive. (Only because he was faster than me, even then!)

  11. says

    Well, I’ve never had occasion to try Marmite (or any of its variations) but I’ll consider myself forewarned. (I do however love my peanut butter, with or without jelly.)

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