There's a battle raging on this planet. A battle between Vegemite and Marmite. That's right, the age-old war of the concentrated yeast extract spread. Marmite, a British favorite and Vegemite, an Australian staple, are what we'd refer to as an acquired taste. These two yeast extracts are so similar in packaging, marketing, application and production method, we began to wonder if the argument over which was better was splitting hairs, just a bit.
So, we did what we always do when there's a food question that needs answering, we had a taste test.
These two funky spreads are usually eaten on toast, sometimes with butter. We tried them on little rounds of melba toast, thinking that was probably the closest we could get, in an office conspicuously lacking a toaster. Originally, our thought was to see if we could tell the difference between the two spreads. Upon opening the jars, we realized that concept was pretty much out the window because they look incredibly different. Marmite is burnt caramel-colored and thickly syrupy, like yeasty honey. Vegemite is a thick paste -- if we didn't know what it was, we would probably think it was chocolate ganache. Which... it definitely isn't.
Only two of our nine tasters had tasted Vegemite before, and only one of those two had ever tried Marmite, so we really were going into this without an allegiance to either spread. Incredibly, our respondents were split straight down the middle as to which spread was better, a dead tie. We're not sure if that means that they liked both equally or hated them equally.
Here's what some of them said after tasting:
- Vegemite: "Salt murder! But it's in that great song. 'She just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.'" "So concentrated. Almost fish saucy, as though it were made into a paste." "Well, I gagged during Marmite, so I guess I like Vegemite better. Extremely savory in a bad way." "The saltiness seems more subtle." "Aside from the texture and color, they taste almost exactly the same. This one has a note of bitterness." "This makes Marmite taste bland. So salty. Is this pure sodium?" "Tastes like a thick soy sauce."
- Marmite: "Slightly milder than Vegemite, which makes it mildly consumable." "This is not food." "Too harsh." "Tastes like molasses gone bad." "Oh my god, it's so salty. I guess it's yeasty, but I mostly just taste salt. Smells like death." "Tastes like very concentrated soy sauce." "Still very salty, but less potent, so it's slightly better." "One bite was enough!" "Awful, stung my tongue with yuck."
Not exactly glowing results, but we all made it out alright, and some of us can even see acquiring this taste at some point in the future. How do you eat your Marmite or Vegemite?