Michael Gove is Right.

by Harry on March 22, 2006

I rarely agree with Michael Gove, but am, like him, mortified by the prospect of Marmite being sold in plastic (scroll down past the weird stuff on punk to “Love it, Hate it…”; sorry I’m late on this, I just got the cutting from my mum). I usually plan my transatlantic trips to coincide with the time I anticipate a domestic Marmite crisis, and have it for lunch most days still (it’s not an acquired taste for me, I’ve loved it since I can remember).

As for scraping the last bits out of the jar; I’m a bit disappointed in a future Tory cabinet minister not knowing what to do: pour in a little boiling water, shake it up, and use the liquid for stock, sir. They should put that on the jar, perhaps.



Tom T. 03.22.06 at 8:21 pm

Marmite? Gross. You know what it’s made from, don’t you?

Fluffernutter, now, that’s good stuff.


Kieran Healy 03.22.06 at 8:43 pm

The world can be divided neatly into households for whom the phrase “domestic Marmite crisis” means “We’re running out of Marmite” and households for whom it means “What the hell is this stuff you brought into our home?”


nick s 03.22.06 at 9:04 pm

I usually plan my transatlantic trips to coincide with the time I anticipate a domestic Marmite crisis

Six American pesos for a small jar. Sigh. But yes, I must stock up. True Marmite purists say that it all went downhill when they replaced the metal lid with a plastic one. And in related fings-ain’t-what-they-used-to-be news, I’m still irate about the removal of the licorice Midget Gem.


stuart 03.22.06 at 9:10 pm

People still eat that stuff? Guess the government campaign to cut down on salt intake isn’t making much inroads on behaviour then.


radek 03.22.06 at 9:23 pm

That ‘weird stuff on punk’ sort of makes some sense…


Andrew 03.22.06 at 9:31 pm

Where I’m from we eat Vegemite more than Marmite, but they’re pretty similar. Vegemite is sold in squeeze tubes in addition to jars, but the only time I’ve seen the tubes has been when camping or sailing. To me it does seem to taste better from the jar, but the tube is better than nothing.


Barry Freed 03.22.06 at 9:38 pm

Having had an English housemate once many years ago I can say that I am mortified by the prospect of Marmite



Barry Freed 03.22.06 at 9:43 pm

For the American equivalent I recommend watching Martin Mull’s History of White People in America (not sure if it’s the first one or Vol. II) for the BBQ/Mayonnaise scene. Hilarious.


Andrew 03.22.06 at 9:53 pm

Ok, writing that comment got me in the mood for it, but then I noticed my vegemite jar is actually made of plastic! (It was made in New Zealand, so what could I have expected?)

I disagree that plastic is necessarily worse for mayonnaise. American mayo in a jar is far worse than Japanese mayo in a tube. Maybe marmite in a tube could be better~!


vivian 03.22.06 at 10:08 pm

Marmite doesn’t bother me particularly, but Branston Pickle does. The smell is an effective appetite suppressant, and the appearance is like something from a fallout shelter. Found on the floor. But I am unable to explain things like peanut butter, or half-sour pickles, to the spouse, so we’re even. And the children reject all questionable foodstuffs of all continents.


harry b 03.22.06 at 10:16 pm

Believe it or not, after about 10 years of being married to me, my wife finally capitulated to liking branston pickle. I have a brilliant peanut butter sandwich recipe which is only for US/UK families. I’ll post it next week.


Simstim 03.22.06 at 11:22 pm

Marmite and food in general seems to be the main theme of this thread about the English language on Television Without Pity’s Dr. Who forum.


Kieran Healy 03.22.06 at 11:23 pm

To properly understand Marmite, I think you need first to understand the phrase “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”


soubzriquet 03.23.06 at 12:01 am

re 10: Vivian! You could be more wrong, I suppose, but you’d have to work hard at it. Marmite’s not bad either.


josh 03.23.06 at 1:41 am

Oh, branston pickle is awesome! One of the things I greatly miss about the UK. (Happily, I recently discovered that one can get licorice allsorts here, so there’s that at least; still haven’t found a local branston pickle dealer, though).
Marmite on the other hand I never quite developed a love for. Though I was told that its better when spread on bread along with butter, and that did improve matters considerably (salt AND fat– Mmmmm…)


Daniel 03.23.06 at 2:19 am

Though I was told that its better when spread on bread along with butter

if you were eating Marmite in any other way than spread on bread with butter, the phrase that comes to mind is “those kids are not your friends”.


Chris Bertram 03.23.06 at 3:49 am

hey I am not at all familiar to vergemite and marmite. Could you plz help me out what you all are talking about?

Yeast extract.


Chris Bertram 03.23.06 at 3:55 am

Hey! Check out the wikipedia on Marmite!


Interesting factoids:

The glass jar is an innovation … the originals were earthenware. (Bet it tasted much better ….)

There’s a Swiss product called Cenovis that is similar (anyone able to report on this?)

The product sold under the brand-name “Marmite” in Australia and NZ is significantly different.


JH 03.23.06 at 4:07 am

mmmMarmite. RE: comment#1, Marmite is actually made out of the excess yeast from brewing beer, so really it’s production a some kind of self-contained utopian economy. After all, what else does one need. The waste product is even spread on the fields behind my house as fertilizer (the grain? – used for brewing of course), so one can sample it’s delights without not only without butter, but without bread or even the substance itself. The factory is in Burton-on-Trent, so situated because the town is the centre of the brewing industry. Coincidentally, Branston pickle also comes from Burton (Branston is a suburb), though it is no longer made here there.


duane 03.23.06 at 5:50 am

There are generally considered to be two types of New Zealanders, those who like Vegemite and those who like Marmite. There is grudging recognition of the fact that some don’t like either, but opinion is divided over the best way to tackle the problem. Personally I’m in the re-education camp myself; deportation seems a little harsh. Especially since my wife is one of those misguided souls.

I once met someone who claimed to like both, but I think they were lying. Or mentally ill. Or Australian. Anyway, the stuff they call Marmite here in Britain is very different from what we have back home, or so my weird friends who don’t prefer Vegemite tell me. And then there is this thing they call Bovril, but the less said about that the better!


Daniel 03.23.06 at 6:21 am

by the way, consumer alert/CT health and safety policy – Harry means hot water. Crooked Timber does not recommend that readers pour boiling water into glass jars, or not in any actionable way, anyway.


Tim Worstall 03.23.06 at 7:37 am

The bit that Gove misses (it was on a Times blog a week or so ago) is that the Marmite in a tube will be diluted. Yuck.

Metal Tops? Get your own in sterling silver from Theo Fennel:


And yes, I too was a Marmite baby.


Laura 03.23.06 at 8:01 am

I used to date an English guy, and I refused to kiss him after he had been eating that stuff. Nasty, nasty business. Street tar on toast.


Chris Bertram 03.23.06 at 8:20 am

I guess the guy in this ad felt the same way Laura.


(I used the “broadband version” link)


des von bladet 03.23.06 at 9:18 am

Street tar on toast.

Pertinently, street tar has indeed never tasted quite the same since they switched to selling it in plastic tubes.


tm f 03.23.06 at 1:04 pm

I guess the guy in this ad felt the same way Laura.

So in addition to its role in the beer/bread/fertilizer ecosystem, it’s also a form of birth control?


vivian 03.23.06 at 10:21 pm

#11 ten years, hunh. Let you know in a few years. Can’t wait for the sandwich recipe.

#15 Josh, we’ve found both at local supermarket chains in the ‘international foods’ section. That works in towns with large Irish immigrant populations at least. Google on ” UK food mail” and find two sponsored links that worked well before we discovered the Irish connection.


nick s 03.26.06 at 6:23 pm

The factory is in Burton-on-Trent, so situated because the town is the centre of the brewing industry.

And on my long cross-country train rides, I could often tell that Burton station was approaching because of the faint whiff of Marmite through the ventilation. That must be fun for Burton’s Marmite-hating residents.

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