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Marmite

September 10, 2020

Nothing in my experience can compare to this simple savoury paste that provides subtlety and emphasis to many things, when placed upon a slice of bread and butter, or better still, toast and butter. It is now over 120 years since it first appeared on the market, after its discovery by a German chemist and its manufacture by an English Company.

My earliest memories of comfort food include, along with baked beans on toast, Marmite and tomato on bread or toast. A medium sized tomato cut into four quarters, each of them placed on a quarter of a slice of toast or bread and butter with a thin spread of Marmite.

It never really occurred to me that it was not universally obtainable until we moved to Australia 60 years ago, and could no longer find Marmite despite the abundance of tomatoes. There was a pathetic option called Vegemite, but it was and is not the same. Perhaps the best indication of how it is valued in Australia is that at the end of an evening guests would be offered crackers spread with the Vegemite and perhaps a small slice of tomato to make them go home.

We then returned to England for three years, where one of the compensations for less income was a ready availability of Marmite.

In 1967 we started our lives in Canada, in Newfoundland no less, where not a trace of Marmite could be found in the shops. By chance I had a second cousin once removed, whose job was to test radionics in Valiant bombers, while they were in flight. He was on several occasions capable of ensuring a landing in Torbay with a supply of Marmite for his desperate even if remote relative.

From there we moved on to Toronto, and once again faced a Marmite famine. Luckily my work frequently took me to the Maritimes, and by then I had discovered a store in Halifax where Marmite could be found. We then moved to New Brunswick in 1973 when hen’s teeth were more abundant than Marmite. Fortunately my dreams were finally realised, and by the year 2000 Marmite was a frequent appearance on supermarket shelves, although it sometimes vanished for a month or two. As a savvy consumer I tried to keep at least three jars on hand to bridge the gaps. Now however, disaster has struck, there has been no Marmite on the shelves for six months, and my supply has dwindled to a carefully hoarded trace..

A daughter has found a bottle for me and is putting it on the mail for me, will it arrive in time, my garden is full of tomatoes demanding Marmite.

My faith in Canada Post is fairly high and I hope they can bring it to me. Just in case, I held my nose today, and bought a bottle of Vegemite. Judging by the price it must have flown first class from Australia.

That was a mistake, I tried it and now realise I was wise to switch back to Marmite 56 years ago.

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4 Comments
  1. Good one, Tim. Now I realize why I have always spurned Marmite on grocery shelves … it was to make sure there was enough left for you! I’ve always left the cans of beans as well, in case you needed more for your beans on toast. 😏

  2. Clyde Spinney permalink

    Did you try Scoop and Save?

  3. I see u r a fan of marmite. Vegemite tastes different from marmite indeed

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