VEGEMITE isn’t just owned and made in Australia; it tastes like Australia.
The VEGEMITE brand has a history spanning over 99 years and is proudly owned by the great Australian food company – Bega Cheese Limited. Bega Cheese Limited purchased the VEGEMITE brand in 2017, returning VEGEMITE to Australian ownership for the first time in over 90 years.
VEGEMITE has been proudly made in Port Melbourne, Australia since 1923. VEGEMITE will be celebrating its MITEY 100th birthday this year, on October 25, 2023. Can you believe it has almost been 100 years since VEGEMITE graced the shelves of Australian grocers?
Dr. Cyril P Callister from the Fred Walker Company developed a spread from one of the richest known natural sources in the Vitamin B group – brewer’s yeast. In 1923, after months of laboratory tests, Dr. Cyril P Callister developed a tasty, spreadable product that was labelled ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’, which later became known as ‘VEGEMITE’! See VEGEMITE’s timeline for more info.
The Spread That Could
The Fred Walker Company initiated an ingenious plan; to have the Aussie public officially name their spread. A national competition was launched, offering an attractive 50-pound prize pool for finalists. Unfortunately, the name of the winning contestant was not recorded, but the winning name of the spread – VEGEMITE – was chosen by Fred Walker’s daughter out of hundreds of entries. In 1923, VEGEMITE graced the shelves of grocers Australia-wide. “Delicious on sandwiches and toast, and improving the flavours of soups, stews and gravies,” was how the spread was first described and marketed.
The reality was that at the time, Marmite (a thick, dark English spread), already dominated the Australian market and Australians were reluctant to even try Fred Walker’s locally made product. Poor sales of VEGEMITE resulted in its name being changed in 1928 to ‘Parwill’. Walker was determined to emulate the success of Marmite and the logic behind the re-branding strategy was simple; “If Marmite…then Parwill.”
Walker’s innovative method of marketing was, however, unsuccessful. Parwill failed to gain momentum across the country. It would take Fred Walker 14 years of perseverance and a change back to the original VEGEMITE brand for Australians to embrace what would later become an Australian icon.
The Spread That Did
In 1937, a limerick competition with substantial prizes – including Pontiac cars – was the promotion to not only encourage entries, but also sales of VEGEMITE spread nation-wide. Following the successful promotion, the VEGEMITE brand gained official product endorsement from the British Medical Association in 1939 and began advertising in the British Medical Journal. Medical professionals and baby care experts were even recommending VEGEMITE as a Vitamin B rich, nutritionally balanced food to their patients. By 1942, exactly twenty years after it was first developed, the VEGEMITE brand had become a staple food in most Australian homes.
During World War II the Armed Forces were buying VEGEMITE in bulk, due to the product’s nutritional value. Fred Walker’s company had to ration VEGEMITE on a per capita basis across Australia to meet the demand. It’s well known that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so the reduced supply of that ubiquitous VEGEMITE flavour grew in the hearts of Australians. Once World War II had ended – coupled with the post-war migrant and baby boom – VEGEMITE was well and truly a part of Australia’s history – and its heart.
The Song of Australia
In 1954, a trio of bright, energetic youngsters burst into song on radio to a toe-tapping jingle named ‘Happy Little VEGEMITEs’. Two years later, the infectious song was developed into a television campaign, which continued intermittently through to the late 1960s. IItwasn’t until the dawn of the 1980s when the original ‘Happy Little VEGEMITEs’ commercials, re-mastered and colourised, were broadcast to an entirely new generation of Australians who were offered the chance to revel in the VEGEMITE brand’s nostalgia – and have a rose placed in every cheek thanks to what has become Australia’s second, unofficial national anthem. The Happy Little VEGEMITEs commercial was released again in 2010 to remind Australians of their love for the iconic brand.
The Fabric of Australia
Australians know what VEGEMITE tastes like, and now Aussies have a chance to share in what it looks like. In 2018, the VEGEMITE brand expanded its product offering, launching a range of VEGEMITE branded merchandise – from VEGEMITE corduroy cap to the most recently launched VEGEMITE beanie. You can check out the range here.
The Spread We Love
There aren’t many products or brands that have been embraced in the same style, or with the same amount of love, as the VEGEMITE brand has been. And there are certainly not many that continue to. Did you know that in 2016, Cook St in Port Melbourne, Victoria (the home of VEGEMITE), was renamed to “VEGEMITE Way” to celebrate the iconic brand?
The world may be forever evolving, but one thing that remains the same is Australia’s love for VEGEMITE .. And What makes VEGEMITE so great? It’s completely woven into the fabric of our nation – it isn’t just owned and made in Australia; it tastes like Australia. Whether you’re coeliac, low FODMAP, vegetarian, vegan or looking to reduce salt from your diet – there’s a VEGEMITE product just for you. Find out more here.
Looking for some Mitey inspiration? You’ve come to the right place. You can find many ways to get creative with VEGEMITE– simply click here for VEGEMITE recipes and scroll away!
A crowd favourite is our Braided Pull-apart. Not only is it simple to make with just five ingredients, it’s also insanely delicious to eat! If you get creating, don’t forget to tag @VEGEMITE when you share your Mitey creations on social media.
See VEGEMITE’s timeline for more Mitey facts and info.