Friday, July 31, 2009

Different? Yes. Delicious? You're asking the wrong girl.

I was watching TV the other day when I saw some guy offering people tastes of Vegemite. They were all commenting on how creamy it was. It was definitely Vegemite they said, but different. Turns out it was an ad for the NEW Vegemite. A New Vegemite? I couldn't possibly imagine what could be done to Vegemite to make it more appealing. In my experience, you either love it or hate it. There isn't much of a gray area. You can count me amongst the haters, but still, I was intrigued.

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.


Annelise said...

I hate the stuff as well but have had even a smaller taste than you. Granted if I was there with you I would be doing the taste as well. And you know that I would most likely prefer the high maintenance or "maintence" Vegemite. It is just who I am. HAM, my name is Annelise and I am high maintenance...but not really! Love you!

kristin said...

Who sits around thinking "I think we should mess around a bit with Vegemite and see what we can get"??

Mari said...

I'm intrigued. Cream cheese added to vegemite? Well, I love cream cheese. I HATE vegemite. I wonder... I guess I'll have to keep wondering, though!

suzinoz said...

Annelise-I was actually thinking of you when I wrote the high maintenance part. That would totally be your choice! Lol


Mari-Thanks for stopping by. I don't know what to say, I think it tastes more like vegemite than cream cheese. If you hate vegemite I'd stay away. FAR AWAY!

Nikki said...

Hey Susan! I just found your blog thanks to your mom, and needless to say, I'll be back often! I can't wait to catch up on all your archives. And somehow I always thought vegemite was kind of like potted meat. I guess not?

suzinoz said...

Nikki--thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy it1

Lisa in Oz said...

I hate Vegemite with an undying passion. I've tasted it once, and that was enough - my jaw went into lockdown the second that stuff touched my tongue and I couldn't even bring myself to swallow. It's like boiled down, condensed Guinness. Ugh!

I've seen the ads for the New Vegemite, but I don't think I'll be giving it a shot. Cream cheese is an interesting addition though...maybe it makes the flavor a bit more similar to the Vegemite and cheese sandwiches (but without the cheese, of course) that a lot of Aussies like?

suzinoz said...

Lisa--it still tastes distinctively like Vegemite. Steer clear!

Rita said...

oooh I have a jar of this in my cupboard that I haven't busted out yet. Must try! Thanks for reminding me that I have a jar.

suzinoz said...

Rita-Let me know what you think!

Em said...

Hi -thanks for visiting my Melbourne Places blog - I just wanted to say that I eat 'marmite'. It is sort of the same stuff but the taste is different. You can buy it in the supermarkets but it is hidden nearer the ground than Vegemite. In New Zealand it is the one that sells most.Em

suzinoz said...

Em-Thanks for stopping by here! Haven't tried marmite, and not sure it's something I'd do on purpose. =)

Cara Bradley said...

I heard about this new vegemite from a friend, and googled it. I am half Aussie, half American and currently in the states so I appreciate the update =). I also appreciate vegemite for its simplicity. After reading your review and seeing the pictures, I hope this product doesn't do well and they withdraw it. Why do we need a fattier version of vegemite? Oz already isn't doing well with obesity like most western countries, feeding your kids cream cheese morning, noon and night isn't going to help!!

suzinoz said...

@ Cara--Thanks for stopping by. Couldn't agree with you more. Don't know why they'd even bother with this new stuff.