Vegemite Timeline

1894
1923
1926
1928
1931
1935
1936
1937
1940
1942
1946
1948
1952
1954
1956
1960
1963
1967
1970
1972
1976
1980
1983
1984
1985
1991
1993
1994
1996
1999
2002
2008
2009
1922
1923
1926
1928
1930
1940
1946
1950
1952
1960
1964
1970
1975
1979
1980
1984
1989
1991
1999
2000
2002

1922

A young chemist named Dr. Cyril P Callister, hired by the Fred Walker Company, develops a remarkable and distinguished new spread from brewer’s yeast.

It’s appealing taste is backed up by its credentials as being one of the world’s richest known sources of natural Vitamin B.

It is sold in a two ounce (57g) amber glass jar, capped with what was known as a Phoenix seal, to keep the contents fresh.

It is labelled ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’.

1923

Fred Walker runs a competition inviting the Australian public to create a name for the new spread. A prize of 50 pounds – a sizeable sum for that era – is placed into a prize pool for finalists.

Hundreds of people enter. Fred Walker’s daughter selects the winning name: VEGEMITE. The name of the winning entrant is not placed on record.

VEGEMITE spread begins being sold from grocers’ shelves.

It is described as delicious on sandwiches and toast, and as improving the flavour of soups, stews and gravies.

Its flavour and nutritional qualities do not catch on with the Australian public.

Initial sales are slow.

1926

The Fred Walker Company becomes Kraft Walker Foods.

VEGEMITE spread is produced in a limited edition branded porcelain jar, one that has since become a collector’s item.

Fred Walker & Company Pty Ltd continued to operate after 1926 producing Red Feather products.  In fact the company wasn't wound-up until after Walker's death in 1935.  What happened in 1926 could be described in todays jargon as a  joint venture between Fred Walker & Company Pty Ltd and J.L. Kraft Inc of the USA to establish the Kraft Walker Cheese Company Pty Ltd.  This company went on to manufacture Kraft Processed Cheddar Cheese and other products including Vegemite.

1928

Sales of VEGEMITE spread are sluggish.

VEGEMITE spread is renamed ‘Parwill’, in an attempt to emulate the success of the English spread, ‘Marmite’ that dominates the Australian market. It is branded with the catchphrase, “If Marmite…then Parwill.”

Parwill is only ever sold in Queensland, and does not take off nationally.

Fred Walker reverts to the VEGEMITE brand and name.

1931

VEGEMITE spread is available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2 ounce opal glass jars to 6 pound tins.

1935

VEGEMITE spread sales receive a boost when redemption coupons are included in packs of cheddar cheese.

Its reputation as a tasty, nutritious food starts to catch on Australia wide.

Fred Walker passes away, leaving the company to continue his tradition of innovation.

1936

In a time of great change for the Australian household landscape, the electric toaster makes its debut, a device that later becomes synonymous with the VEGEMITE brand.

1937

The Kraft Walker Company launches a promotion with substantial prizes - including imported Pontiac automobiles – asking people to create a limerick for the VEGEMITE brand. The hugely successful promotion sees a jump in VEGEMITE spread sales on a mass scale Australia wide.

The winning limerick, much like the naming competition of 1923, is not recorded, or has been lost in time.

VEGEMITE spread gains official product endorsement from the British Medical Association. This endorsement feat allows the VEGEMITE brand to be advertised in the British Medical Journal, and sees medical professionals and baby care experts recommending VEGEMITE spread as a Vitamin B rich, nutritionally balanced food for their patients.

1940s

During World World II the Armed Forces were buying VEGEMITE spread in bulk, due to the product’s nutritional value. Fred Walker’s company had to ration VEGEMITE spread on a per capita basis across Australia in order to meet the demand.

1942

The VEGEMITE brand celebrates its 20th birthday.

VEGEMITE spread has secured its place in the homes and pantries of Australians.

1946

VEGEMITE brand packaging features many new promotional labels, often with famous Disney characters like Mickey Mouse (then only a toddler) and Donald Duck. This form of marketing and promotion is quite successful with children.

VEGEMITE spread clarifies its content with the label description ‘Concentrated Yeast Extract’.

1948

Post-war prosperity leads to a boom in VEGEMITE spread sales.

The baby boom proves a strong market, after baby care experts, such as Sister McDonald, are quoted in the Women’s Weekly saying “VEGEMITE spread is most essential,” and further cementing VEGEMITE spread’s reputation for nutrition and wholesomeness.

1952

The VEGEMITE brand reflects its association with the American company Kraft.

For the first time, Kraft’s logo – a K in a hexagon – appears on the VEGEMITE spread label.

Kraft Walker Cheese Company Pty Ltd changed it's name to Kraft Foods Limited.  This reflected the fact that Australian ownership (just under 50%) in the company was acquired by the Kraft in the US.

1954

The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle is aired on radio, and captures the essence of the time and promotes the idea of a healthy, ‘lucky country’ where living standards are rising rapidly.

1956

The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle is turned into an advertisement for television, at the same time broadcasting of the Olympic Games begins in Melbourne.

VEGEMITE spread becomes available in a lightweight, clear glass jar.

1960

Coles supermarket, first trading as Dickins, opens in Victoria and Woolworths opens in New South Wales – ensuring sales and stock of the extremely popular VEGEMITE brand.

The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle makes a comeback in advertising.

According to the published history of Woolworths their first supermarket was opened on 10 April 1957 at Dee Why in New South Wales.  It was the first of the chain of Woolworths Food Fairs.

The first Coles Supermarket was the Dickins supermarket in North Balwyn and it opened on 3 March 1960.

1963

The VEGEMITE label, despite all the social changes occurring nation wide, resists change and continues to stand for nutrition and quality.

1967

The VEGEMITE brand initiates an advertising feature called ‘The Three Ages of Man’. It reinforces the notion that VEGEMITE spread is important in the diet of children, teenagers and adults – everyone from 7 to 70 years of age. This campaign continues for 2 years.

1970

The VEGEMITE label changes; rounded corners are added to the diamond and the Kraft logo is moved up and over the lower end of the diamond, transforming into a logo much more similar to the one we know today.

1972

A new advertising campaign for radio and magazines launches, using the phrase, “Pass the VEGEMITE please Mum.” It becomes a very popular turn of phrase.

1976

The “Pass the VEGEMITE please Mum,” advertising campaign is reworked into a colour television commercial.

1980

The VEGEMITE brand uses three prominent Australians in their advertising campaign directed at teenagers and young adults - champion racing car driver Peter Brock, tennis legend Ken Rosewall and award winning actress Helen Morse.

1983

To mark the exact place where VEGEMITE spread was discovered 60 years earlier, a plaque is unveiled at Kerford Road in Canterbury,Port Melbourne.

“Do you know what I really like?” becomes VEGEMITE spreads advertising slogan.

1984

In April, a 115g jar of VEGEMITE spread makes supermarket history in Australia by becoming the first product to be electronically scanned at a checkout.

It was scanned at Woolworths in Chullora, NSW and the price was 66 cents.

The product is still on display at the Woolworths head office in NSW.

1985

A national television advertising campaign is launched, using the, “Do you know what I really like?” slogan from 1983.

1991

A new commercial for the VEGEMITE brand is filmed, using Super-8 to achieve a home movie feel. It is accompanied by the ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ jingle and continues to circulate the importance of VEGEMITE spread’s nutritional benefit to growing children.

Yellow, tamper-evident lids replace traditional metal ones, which ensures VEGEMITE spread reaches consumers in exactly the same way it was prepared in the factory.

A VEGEMITE brand exhibition is staged at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, during the July school holidays. The exhibition features original jars and promotional material dating back to the birth of the VEGEMITE brand in 1922.

The majority of jars collected from the early years of VEGEMITE spread came from the Australian public following a national search for historical VEGEMITE brand memorabilia.

1993

The VEGEMITE brand turns 70 and is known to most of the Australian population. A commemorative jar was produced to celebrate the occasion.

1994

Outdoor and transit advertising is used to promote the VEGEMITE spread breakfast campaign. A large bus is converted into a toaster on wheels, and is used to share samples of VEGEMITE spread on toast for breakfast.

1996

VEGEMITE spread is released in a tube, to coincide with the beginning of the peak travel period.

‘The Happy Little Vegemites’ Awards are launched, and primary schools across Australia are invited to participate. The awards are the VEGEMITE brand’s way of giving back to the Australian community, by making a significant contribution to the growth and educational development of young Australians.

Over 900 schools responded to the invitation and all had to perform their own version of the legendary ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ song.

The national winner was Emmanuel College in Queensland, which received the grand prize of $75,000.

The ‘Happy Little Vegemites’ song is given a more contemporary feel, and a new advertisement is featured on television.

1999

Kraft launches a new product incorporating the VEGEMITE spread; ‘Snack Abouts’. They feature four crisp breads in every pack and a handy red stick for spreading. They become a popular addition to the Aussie kids’ lunch box, but are also popular amongst adults.

The VEGEMITE brand encourages older generations of VEGEMITE spread consumers to continue eating and buying the product, due to its high content of Vitamins B1 and B2, which help release energy throughout the body.

Woolworths gives away 500 VEGEMITE branded toasters during the ‘VEGEMITE, a great way to start the day,’ breakfast promotion.

2002

The VEGEMITE brand releases another collectable item – an interactive, magnetic placemat – available by redeeming tokens from underneath jar lids.

2008

There is a unique brand truth about VEGEMITE spread… despite the fact that it is a single product, its usage is highly individual. The 2008 “How Do You Like Your VEGEMITE?” campaign provoked debate around the different ways you can eat VEGEMITE spread, from the usual ‘Tiger Toaster’ (VEGEMITE spread and cheese) to the more unusual (e.g. ‘The Redback’ VEGEMITE spread and tomatoes) .

This campaign was launched through Television, radio, outdoor and digital in an effort to “paint the town red” with VEGEMITE spread imagery.

2008 also saw the production of the billionth jar of VEGEMITE spread, which was celebrated through a nation wide consumer promotion searching for a special jar through a winning promotional sticker hiding under the cap of one jar of VEGEMITE spread.

This campaign gained unprecedented PR and media attention as fans around the country searched for the special Billionth Jar of VEGEMITE spread in the “Billionth Jar” promotion.

2009

After more than 85 years in the Australian market VEGEMITE spread created its first true new product to add to the VEGEMITE brand family – VEGEMITE CHEESYBITE in July of 2009.

This product was launched in the same spirit as VEGEMITE spread back in the 1920’s, with a nationwide search for the perfect name. Initially launched as “VEGEMITE NAME ME”, consumers were encouraged to enter into a naming contest for the new product, made from a mixture of cream cheese and VEGEMITE spread.

At the AFL Grand Final in September, the new name had been chosen and was announced as “iSnack2.0”. However, the feedback from consumers was that this name didn’t properly reflect the brand, so the competition was reopened asking consumers to vote on one of 8 names to be the new name.

1922

VEGEMITE spread debuts in an amber glass jar capped with what is known as a Phoenix Seal, to keep the contents fresh. It is initially called ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’.

1923

A national competition to change the name from ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’ is held, with the winning name being selected; VEGEMITE.

The labelling includes the description ‘Pure Yeast Extract’.

1926

VEGEMITE spread is available in a limited edition porcelain jar.

1928

Fred Walker decides to change the name of his poor-selling VEGEMITE spread to ‘Parwill’. The move is unsuccessful and Walker reverts back to the original name for VEGEMITE spread.

1930

10 years after the VEGEMITE brand’s initial launch, a dramatic change is given to the appearance of the jar. Multi-purpose jars are developed that can be converted into an egg cup, salt and pepper shaker or mustard pots (complete with a spoon) once the VEGEMITE spread has been consumed.

1930

Sizes of VEGEMITE spread jars change to meet the demand in popularity – VEGEMITE spread becomes available in 2, 4, 6 and 8 ounce jars and 1 and 6 pound tins.

1940

World War II Armed Forces request VEGEMITE spread to meet the nutritional requirements of the Australian men and women at war. The military receives their supplies in 7 ounces (200g) as well as half an ounce (14g) individual ration packs.

1946

‘Pure Yeast Extract’ is changed to ‘Concentrated Yeast Extract’ on the VEGEMITE spread label, at the request of the company’s production department, who feels it is a more precise description. This description remains unchanged and is still used on labels today.

VEGEMITE spread is sold in reusable plastic beakers available in a variety of colours with promotional labels, featuring famous Disney characters such as Pinocchio, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

1950

The Kraft Walker Company changes its name to Kraft Foods Limited.

1952

The VEGEMITE brand reflects its association with Kraft by placing the Kraft logo – at the time a K surrounded by a hexagon – just above the word VEGEMITE on its label.

1960

The period between 1961 to 1964 delivers the most significant logo and label modifications to make the VEGEMITE spread jar look most like it does today.

1964

The Kraft ‘K’ logo is replaced with the full word Kraft, surrounded by an elongated hexagon.

1970

Regulatory requirements increase in labelling.

The VEGEMITE logo changes several times – first extending the VEGEMITE word outside the diamond, only to then have it reverted back inside with the addition of metric and imperial weights added.

1975

Imperial information is dropped from VEGEMITE spread labelling.

1979

VEGEMITE spread’s ingredients are listed for the first time.

1980

Special purpose packaging is introduced for the hospitality industry.

1984

In April, VEGEMITE spread makes Australian supermarket history, when a 115g jar becomes the first item ever to be scanned at a checkout in the country. It is at a Woolworths in New South Wales.

1989

The words “all-natural” are added to the VEGEMITE spread labelling, in line with consumer requirements.

1991

The metal lids on jars of VEGEMITE spread are replaced with yellow, tamper-evident plastic ones – the same as the lids we see today.

1999

VEGEMITE spread is launched in a plastic tube, for those that require a handy travel pack. Being plastic, it can’t break, being long and thin, it is easy to travel with, and being in a tube allows for ease when spreading without a knife.

The VEGEMITE brand launches Snackabouts – for children and adults alike - to enjoy a VEGEMITE spread snack on the run and when convenient. Snack Abouts contains four crispbreads and a handy red stick for coating VEGEMITE spread onto crackers.

2000

VEGEMITE spread is put into a reusable glass for a limited period of time, proving very popular with collectors of VEGEMITE brand memorabilia.

2002

The VEGEMITE spread tube is re-launched.