Dr Mumbo

Wanna make your brand more Aussie? Just add vegemite

Australians are being asked to vote on another issue of national importance. If we don’t get this vote correct, it threatens the very fabric of our nation as a whole.

I’m talking, of course, about the proposal being put forth by Uncle Tobys and Vegemite to release into the public what they’ve dubbed a “brand-new breakfast experience” – Uncle Tobys Oats with Vegemite.

“This new taste sensation sees Uncle Tobys’ smooth and creamy oats combined with the savoury notes of Vegemite, perfect for those who want the taste of oats with a new flavour twist.”

This is factually accurate. This product would be perfect for those who want the taste of oats with a new flavour twist. I’m just not sure who has ever expressed such a wish, lamenting the lack of spikiness in their morning porridge.

Vegemite is a divisive flavour. This much is true to anyone who wasn’t born or bred in Australia, and a great deal of the population who were. Even if you enjoy it, which I do, it can prompt an involuntary facial reaction when applied too generously, or to foodstuffs which have absolutely no reason being in the same pantry as our national spread, let alone the same recipe.

This hasn’t stopped a number of food companies from adding it to their otherwise unrelated product lines, in a bid to tap into Vegemite’s unassailable Aussie-ness,  while triggering reactions like the one you’re reading. Yuck! Yum! They don’t mind which side of the fence you fall on.

Mixing products with Vegemite is not an experiment in flavour. It is a marketing ploy, and it clearly works.

Look at the sheer number of products that have attempted to add the condiment to their offering.

These first three fall loosely into the biscuit/crisp region, which makes sense as a Vegemite collaborator, until you really think about the baked pea/Vegemite combo. Really think about it.

Same deal with cheesy/pizza/bready type products. It seems to make sense, mostly due to the thankless work the Cheesymite scroll has done in breaking down barriers in this regard, but if you look deep within yourself, if you study your soul, you’ll soon discover that you do not want Vegemite on your pizza.

You might wish to be more of an Aussie though.

Coles really wanted to appeal to the Aussie in all of us this past Easter with their Vegemite-infused hot cross buns. “Tastes Like Australia” the bag claims, with an arrow pointing directly to the Vegemite logo, in case you missed the otherwise subtle packaging.

Meanwhile, Domino’s made the fatal error of posing its own Vegemite pizzas with the even-more-divisive Vegemite Squeezy product, which — as the most staunch Vegemite devotees will yell at you in the condiments aisle of your local supermaket — tastes completely different to Vegemite, and is mostly a watered-down, buttery baby version for babies.

McCain also whacked the Aussie Made stamp on its Vegemite pizza experimentation, which judging by the fluctuating health stars, is actually less healthy in pocket form.

But we already view Coles, Arnott’s, and McCain as quintessentially Australian companies. Does adding a dash of Vegemite really hammer this fact home?

It certainly doesn’t make for a superior taste sensation.

After all, we know that, despite how patriotic you claim to be, how green and gold the blood that flows through your veins may be, you cannot, in all truth, claim to have enjoyed the Coles rotisserie chicken/Vegemite combo.

Or this.

Okay, one more.

So, who’s to blame?

I think we need to point the fingers squarely at Kraft, who once controlled the Vegemite brand, and who were the first to wade into such cursed combinations.

Kids who went to school during the 1990s may recall the following commercial with horror, as the once-trusted brand played havoc with budding tastebuds and lunchboxes with abandon.

At least we’ve been spared the Vegemite/peanut butter combo that Kraft could have unleashed upon the world.

As we look over these product combinations with shock and horror, and swearing that we can taste Vegemite in our coffees (don’t worry: you can’t), one thing becomes abundantly clear about this entire fiasco.

This article should have had a trigger warning on it. Sorry.



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