Vegemite makeover

This iconic product is having a 'little touch-up' after 87 years on Australia's shelves.

by: AFP | 17 Jun 2009

The iconic Australian vegetable spread Vegemite is getting a makeover.

Kraft Foods announced Sunday that a creamier variation of the product would be on store shelves July 5 alongside the original, which has been a staple in pantries Down Under almost since its invention in 1922.

"With such a well-loved, iconic brand, we wouldn't create something using the Vegemite name unless we were absolutely sure Australians would love it," said Simon Talbot, Kraft's head of corporate affairs.

Vegemite – a salty, slightly bitter spread made from brewer's yeast – is such a part of Australian lifestyle that it even made mention as a sandwich in the 1980s hit song "Down Under" by Men at Work. Australians spread it on toast or crackers, top it with tomatoes or avocados, use it to flavour soups and gravies, pack a jar when traveling and write home for more when living abroad.

Kraft decided to make a new product after conducting a census of 300,000 Australians and New Zealanders to find out how they use Vegemite, Talbot told The Associated Press on Monday.

"We received a wish list of what Australians would like and decided to create a new version to complement the original," he said.

The new Vegemite experience
The end result is a Vegemite mixed with cream cheese for a smoother, more spreadable consistency. Talbot said the new product was given to 600 homes for testing and came back with overwhelmingly positive results.

"It's a milder version, more suited to dipping celery or carrots, easy to spread," Talbot said. "It's a different flavour profile but still distinctly Vegemite."

Kraft touts the still-unnamed product as "the new Vegemite experience."

Just like the original, which was named in a national poll in 1923, the new version will also be named by a public contest. Jars that go on sale next month will carry the label: "Name Me."

The contest is open-ended as Kraft selects the best name for the Vegemite partner.

"It's in the hands of the Australian and New Zealand people," Talbot said.

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