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Spreading the love for Vegemite.

"Buying bread from a man in Brussels. He was six foot four and full of muscle. I said, 'Do you speak my language?' He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich ..."

"What could this mean now?" I hummed to myself in a sketchy Colin James Hay vibrato? What the heck is a Vegemite sandwich? I finally got around to finding out 30 years after the Aussie band Men at Work put it in the second verse of their hit record, "Down Under."

Honestly, I could have gone another three decades without satisfying my ill-advised curiosity. The thing about this salty-tasting yeast product is you either love it or hate it. There is no such thing as a gray area with Vegemite. It's a dark brown bread and cracker spread, popular for breakfast toast. A recent Facebook post on my page proved conclusively that if you're from Australia, you love it. If you're from the U.S., you hate it.

Unless you're NECN anchorman, Mike Nikitas, who could easily be elected prime minister of Australia after posting the following on my wall:

"LOVE the stuff. I became addicted a few years ago after a trip to visit my daughter who lives in Sydney. She sent some for Father's Day and last summer she brought me five different brands: Vegemite, OzEmite, Mighty Mite, Promite and Cheezymite. We had a taste test and I was in heaven. My favorite is a Vegi-Cado sandwich: toasted bread, butter, vegemite, ham or turkey, cheese, avocado. I unabashedly love Vegemite."

Considering the British Empire used convicted criminals to populate the continent while easing pressure on their own overcrowded jails, I'm wondering if the residents were fed this inexpensive spread the way lobster was once used to feed our incarcerated population.

Long before Men at Work put Vegemite on our collective radars, a kitschy 1950s jingle put the marketing punch into a brand that had enjoyed only marginal success in the decades prior, (youtube.com/ watch?v=0yA98MujNeM)

As a so-called foodie, I supposed I should approach this yeasty treat with more of an open mind and mouth. After all, years ago I confessed in this very forum that I hated cilantro. Now, I absolutely love it and am happy when it surprisingly shows up in a restaurant dish I've ordered. On the other hand, I have not warmed up to olives yet.

I have been informed by friends that Vegemite works as a sure cure for overconsumption from the night before. Hair of the dingo--it is a brewer's yeast extract after all. And since New Hampshire is a top-five beer consumption state, Vegemite might just be the next big thing among those who, on occasion, are over-served.

Don't ask for Vegemite at Outback Steakhouses or Bugaboo Creek either. The person at a local Bugaboo said I was the first person to ever ask about it--thought I was a prank caller. Sorry, Mike Nikitas. Looks like it's BYOV next time you go to Bugaboo or Outback.

Mike Morin can be contacted at Heymikey@aol.com.

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Title Annotation:last word
Author:Morin, Mike
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Date:Nov 14, 2014
Words:508
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