The British version of the product is a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty and savoury with umami qualities, comparable to soy sauce. This distinctive taste is reflected in the British company's marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it." It is similar to the Australian Vegemite and Swiss Cenovis. Bovril is a similar-looking spread made from beef extract; it tastes completely different to Marmite.
The distinctive product was originally British, but a version with a noticeably different taste has been manufactured in New Zealand since 1919, and this is the dominant version in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
The image on the front of the British jar shows a "marmite", a French term for a large, covered earthenware or metal cooking pot. The British Marmite was originally supplied in earthenware pots, but since the 1920s has been sold in glass jars that approximate the shape of such pots. A thinner version in squeezable plastic jars was introduced in March 2006.
Today, the main ingredients of Marmite manufactured in the UK are yeast extract, with lesser quantities of sodium chloride (table salt), vegetable extract, niacin, thiamine, spice extracts, riboflavin, folic acid, and celery extracts, although the precise composition is a trade secret. By 1912, the discovery of vitamins was a boost for Marmite, as the spread is a rich source of the vitamin B complex; vitamin B12 is not naturally found in yeast extract, but is added to Marmite during manufacture. With the vitamin B1 deficiency beri-beri being common during the First World War, the spread became more popular.
In 1990, Marmite Limited—which had become a subsidiary of Bovril Limited—was bought by CPC (United Kingdom) Limited, which changed its name to Best Foods Inc in 1998. Best Foods Inc subsequently merged with Unilever in 2000, and Marmite is now a trademark owned by Unilever.
Marmite's publicity campaigns initially emphasised the spread's healthy nature, extolling it as "The growing up spread you never grow out of." During the 1980s, the spread was advertised with the slogan "My mate, Marmite", chanted in television commercials by an army platoon (the spread had been a standard vitamin supplement for British-based German POWs during the Second World War). By the 1990s, another strand entered the company's marketing efforts; Marmite's distinctive and powerful taste had earned it as many detractors as it had fans, and it was commonly notorious for producing a binary and exclusive "love/hate" reaction amongst consumers. Modern advertisements play on this, and Marmite runs a dual skinned website with two URLs; I Love Marmite and I Hate Marmite, where people may share their experiences of Marmite and are actively encouraged to fuel this debate, as prompted by the I Hate Marmite registration form
A 2004 UK TV advert, which parodied the 1958 Steve McQueen film The Blob, substituting Marmite for the original alien space menace and including scenes of fleeing crowds, was dropped from children's television after concerned parents reported that their children had been scared by the adverts and had nightmares after viewing them.
Marmite is less common outside of the United Kingdom (see Availability worldwide). It is frequently cited as the most-missed foodstuff by British expatriates. Paul Ridout, a British backpacker kidnapped by Kashmiri separatists in 1994, was quoted as saying "It's just one of those things—you get out of the country and it's all you can think about.
Bill Bryson, in Notes from a Small Island writes: "There are certain things that you have to be British, or at least older than me, or possibly both, to appreciate: skiffle music, salt-cellars with a single hole, [and] Marmite (an edible yeast extract with the visual properties of an industrial lubricant).
In 2006, a new "squeezy" jar of Marmite was released. It was released to make the Marmite easier to get out. The container is made of plastic, and when first launched the "Marmite" logo was replaced by the words "Squeeze me".
In the 1930s, Sanitarium began experimenting with the ingredients, which are now present in quantities different from the British version. Labels on the products show that the New Zealand version also has high levels of potassium, which the British version does not.
This New Zealand product is now considered to have a somewhat sweeter flavour than the British spread. It is widely distributed through Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
Since 1923, New Zealand Marmite has been locked in a battle with Vegemite, an American-owned Australian spread with a similar appearance but markedly different flavour.
In recent years, Unilever has sold British Marmite on New Zealand supermarket shelves, replacing the name "Marmite" on the jar with "Our Mate", as Sanitarium has exclusive rights to the name in the country.. "Our Mate" tastes considerably more salty and less sweet than New Zealand Marmite.
Marmite is traditionally eaten as a savoury spread on bread, toast, and savoury biscuits. Owing to its concentrated taste it is usually spread thinly with butter or margarine. In 2003, the Absolute Press published Paul Hartley's The Marmite Cookbook, containing recipes and suggestions on how to blend Marmite with other foodstuffs.
Marmite also works well with cheese (such as in a cheese sandwich) and has been used as an additional flavouring in Mini Cheddars, a savoury cheese-flavoured biscuit snack. Similarly, it has been used by Walkers Crisps for a special-edition flavour and has introduced, with local Dorset bakery Fudges, Marmite Biscuits in the UK. Starbucks UK has a cheese and Marmite Panini on their menu.
In New Zealand, Marmite is sometimes spread on bread with potato crisps added to make a "Marmite and Chip" or "Crisps and Marmite" sandwich.
Countries where (Unilever UK Export) Marmite export has some availability, such as some supermarkets, local shops and health food stores are:
Marmite purchased in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands is New Zealand Marmite, which has its own distinctive flavour.
British supermarket Tesco's own brand yeast extract is also available in stores in the Czech Republic.
New Zealand Marmite ingredients include sugar—and comes in different packaging; it is manufactured by the Sanitarium Health Food Company, which started importing it from Britain in 1910, gained the exclusive agency to sell in New Zealand in 1919, and in the 1930s started experimenting with blends that led to today's independent product. NZ Marmite is marketed and sold in some speciality shops in the UK under the name "Vitamite".
UK Marmite is available in Australia in the 125g size from several small imported food stores.
There is also an imported version called "Our Mate" which is produced and exported by Unilever's UK export division (Unilever UK Export). These are also sold in the 125g size and are produced in Burton on Trent, the home of Marmite and Bovril. The label states "Made in the UK by Unilever UK." Australia's national distributor Manassen Foods works with Unilever UK Export to sell 'Our Mate' (Marmite) in Australia and New Zealand.
The Guinness Marmite has a more subtle and smoother taste. Although it is alcohol free, it still retains a noticeable hint of "Guinness" flavour. Its consistency is rather more runny than the normal Marmite and care might be needed when opening the white and black liveried jar.
In January 2008 a new special edition Champagne Marmite was released for Valentines day 2008, the limited edition run 600,000 was initially released exclusively to Selfridges of London and then across the UK from January the 21st. With 0.3% champagne added to the recipe the spread isn't alcoholic, but does have a sweeter smell than the regular spread, a slightly lighter colour and like the Guinness edition a runnier consistency than usual. The special edition also has a modified label in the shape of a heart with 'I love you' instead of the regular Marmite logo and decorated with italic writing and cherubs. The lid has also been made a golden colour to match the label and emulate a champagne bottle. A new touch to the jar is a space on the back to write in the name of one's valentine onto the jar.
UK Marmite is gluten-free.
New Zealand Marmite contains 80% yeast. Other ingredients are sugar, salt, mineral salt (508), wheat maltodextrin, caramel colour, herbs, spices, vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, B12), iron, and derivatives of barley, wheat and soy.
Per 4 g serving of UK Marmite
RDA = Recommended Daily Allowance.
Suggested serving 4 g for adults, 2 g for children.
Per 5 g serving of New Zealand Marmite
The two things given to each patient were a bottle of the standard quinine mixture and Marmite rolled into the form of vederala's pills. The latter was said to have been the idea of the late Dr. Mary Ratnam and to have been more effective than the quinine itself, such was the degree of starvation among the peasantry. The Suriya Mal workers were amazed to see how this little Marmite revived them and put some life back into them.|1|1|George Jan Lerski|