Our entire household isn't full of Vegemite haters. In fact, I'm on my own in my disliking of this salty brown tar paste. The Handsome Australian and both of our children count themselves in the lovers camp. No one more so than my girl. She really LOVES Vegemite. She could eat it all day every day. So it was for her that I picked up a bottle of this New Vegemite at the grocery store this week.
It looks kind of like the old Vegemite, but is screaming out for a name. In fact, KRAFT is looking for some good inspiration in that department and asking consumers to submit their naming ideas. Turns out the original Vegemite was named by the Australian public in a similar fashion way back in 1923. It'll be interesting to see what the Aussies come up with now.
Overlooking this New Vegemite's obvious identity crisis, I decided to serve it to the Vegemite connoisseur in our household this morning. The package promises it will be, "A deliciously different Vegemite experience." Hmm...she'll be the judge of that I thought.
I told her that I found a New Vegemite at the grocery store and asked if she wanted to try it. I told her I'd heard it was creamier than the original. She was excited. She's an enthusiastic kid. "Oh, yes please Mommy. I'd love to try it." So I went to the kitchen to put the bread in the toaster and she came around the corner with a thoughtful expression on her face. Then she said, "Mommy, can I taste a little bit first--before you spread it all over my toast?" Ah ha! It seems 30 seconds of processing by the five year old led her to the same conclusion I had--what the heck could they have done to the Vegemite to make it taste better? She went from enthusiastic to suspicious.
So I put a little bit on the spreading knife and she dabbed her finger in it. She put the finger in her mouth and tasted it. I waited. "Mmmmm...." she said.
"Do you like it?" I questioned.
"Well, it's not sour. I like it sour. This isn't sour. I want the other Vegemite on my toast please Mommy."
Sour? What did she mean sour? Vegemite is sour? How the heck would I know? I've only tasted it a few times and all I remember is that I don't like it. Again, I was intrigued. So against my better judgement, I tasted the New Vegemite. It was creamy and lighter in colour. It tasted like Vegemite, but not as much. It was a more subtle Vegemite flavour. It just didn't have the Vegemite bite.
I hadn't bothered to read the label on the New Vegemite at the store to ascertain exactly how it was different from the original, but after tasting it, I was curious. So I had a read.
Turns out they basically added cream cheese to the original formula. Interesting. That would explain the creaminess and the less concentrated flavour.
It was clearly not fair to taste the New Vegemite without comparing it with the old and so I had a small taste of the original. By 'small', I do mean 'really, really small' because I haven't completely lost my mind.
Oh yes. It was salty and yes, I guess sour in a way. I remembered yet again, why I don't like Vegemite--because it's disgusting. I couldn't help but thinking, however, that much like bad reality television, Vegemite is oddly compelling. I keep coming back to it and marveling at the fact that people actually eat and enjoy it. Then I try it, and it's still disgusting.
The ingredients of the original Vegemite are much more straight forward. Despite it's super concentrated flavour, I think the original has a lot going for it. As it clearly states on the label, it's suitable for Vegetarians and I couldn't help but think--people with milk allergies like my nephews. The New Vegemite isn't as friendly in that way.
If that's not enough to put you off the New Vegemite, then I read this, "Refrigerate after opening. Best consumed within four weeks of opening."
No, no, no. I'm not going to refrigerate my Vegemite. The beauty of Vegemite is that it's low maintenance. I can chuck that tube in a back pack for a day out with the kids. I can pack it in my suitcase and lug it around the USA for months at a time (as I've been known to do). No sir, there will be none of this New high maintenance Vegemite for us. We'll stick to the original, thank you very much.
Wait, did I just say, "we"? I told you, it's oddly compelling. I've just put up a case for why I prefer the old Vegemite to the New Vegemite. Not to mention the fact that I've actually tasted both today. I still don't like it, yet I'm still here talking about it. What can I say, it has a strange power over me.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make my way to the KRAFT website to propose my name for the New Vegemite: I Mite Not.