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Since 1902, the Marmite Food Extract Company has been hard at work offering their patented yeast extract to their adoring public. Marmite1 is a product equally loved and loathed by the UK public. Some people can't live without it, while others think it is disgusting goo. Viscous in consistency, it is deceptively like crude oil in appearance. Indeed, this is what many would claim it to be, if it were not for the ingredients list. After all, the main ingredient for Marmite is spent brewer's yeast. How on earth the inventor decided that spreading fungus on a piece of toast may in fact taste quite nice is a mystery. However, considering that it is a byproduct of the fermentation of sugars into alcohol, one theory is that the inventor was drunk, and it probably seemed like the right thing to do at the time.


It's believed that Marmite is partially responsible for helping many soldiers overseas during the First and Second World Wars in combating diseases caused by vitamin deficiency. Indeed, it's one of those many food items in existence that mothers tell their children is good for them. Parents are well aware of the benefits of a vitamin-enriched diet for their children, which probably accounts for the high level of sales of this product: reaching well over 23 million by the 1990s.

What's in Marmite?

Yeast Extract - The extract of a fungus often used to ferment sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The gas makes bread rise. In pure form, smells awful.

Sodium Chloride - aka salt. Nice on chips. Essential part of human diet. Comes from the sea, or underground deposits (from very old seas).

Vegetable Extract - Well, er... it's vegetables, right, and they take stuff from them...

Niacin - A nicer way of saying Nicotinic acid - which is a poncy way of saying part of the Vitamin B complex (Vitamin B3).

Thiamin - Vitamin B1. Useful for Glycosis - part of respiration. Not that it matters.

Spice2 Extracts - Well, they got these spices, right, and they sort of extracted bits out of them...

Riboflavin - Vitamin B2 - The manufacturers are obviously trying to pretend that their product is not mostly constructed of Vitamin B by using long words.

Folic Acid - Again, it's just another type of Vitamin B.

Vitamin B12 - This ingredient is pretty self-explanatory. They must have run out of fancy Vitamin B words. Needed for producing proteins, red blood cells.

Marmite is very potent stuff. It doesn't appear to contain much food, and the food it does contain is only the extract. Although over 50% of its ingredients are Vitamin B spelled in different ways, please bear in mind that the quantities differ - ie you are not consuming a jar of Vitamin B, but mostly vegetable, yeast and spice extracts with a small quantity of B Vitamin variants.

Why Eat it?

You will notice that, if you concentrate too hard on your Marmite consumption, it isn't actually very nice, if eaten on its own. Even so, for some people it could be considered to have addictive properties.

Vegetarians also know its advantages, and the fact it's 100% veggie based is further encouragement. Some Marmite slapped in between two slices of bread is an automatic veggie meal. And the overabundance of vitamins is yet another reason.

How to Eat Marmite

If Marmite is applied correctly, and the base is prepared properly, it is delicious. But it is a common mistake, especially of children and of inexperienced users, to apply Marmite thickly to bread as if it were jam or honey.

This is a very, very bad idea. One Researcher did not eat Marmite for years, as his first experience of the substance was being forced to eat it, in a normal sandwich, spread so thick you could find the bodies of dinosaurs lying at the bottom. The overwhelming taste put him off completely.

So without further ado, here is the proper way in how to eat Marmite without suffering as that Researcher did.

  • Only use white bread.

  • Toast the bread. No-one likes eating Marmite in a normal sandwich. As low-grade white bread is usually slightly damp, toasting is always advisable when using it in conjunction with any spread.

  • Butter the toast when it is still hot. This way, the butter melts into the toast making it slightly mushy on top. Use spreadable butter because it melts faster and more easily (but not margarine, as this ruins the taste).

  • Apply the Marmite thinly at first, until the whole of the buttered area is coated. Leaving small gaps randomly is advisable.

  • Continue to apply until the Marmite-saturation level is to your particular taste (this may take practice, but the rewards are great). In future preparation, you may wish to try adjusting the proportion of butter to Marmite, until the levels are to your satisfaction.

  • Make sure you do not spend too long applying the Marmite to your toast: prolonged exposure to the butter will cause the toast to go soggy. You need to aim for a buttery top, but the toast must remain crisp.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, apply the butter and Marmite to cold toast. Eating Marmite on cold toast with unmelted butter is quite, quite revolting.

How to Get the Last Bit of Marmite Out of the Jar

Marmite jars have very deep 'shoulders' which means that it's very difficult to get the last bit out. Of course, the manufacturers could redesign the jar, but Marmite packaging is a design icon, up there with Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Coca Cola bottles.

By all means, get the last bit out with your finger, but do not be tempted to lick your digits like you would if you were getting the last bit out from a peanut butter jar, unless you really, really like Marmite and have a high tolerance for very strong flavours which are likely to make your eyes water. Another option is to find a bendy knife. Or you could pour in a little boiling water into the jar, put on the lid, shake, dispense into a mug, add more hot water for a warming nourishing wintery drink that tastes of Marmite-flavoured crisps (oh yes, there is such a thing).

1Not to be confused with Vegemite. And most certainly not to be confused with Bovril.2Not to be confused with Spice, a valuable substance mined in the Dune books by Frank Herbert.

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