A most excellent yeast concoction, rather salty, which tastes something like spreadable beer. Is delicious when made into a sandwich with plenty of peanut butter, preferably on homemade or bread machine bread.

An excellent source of Vitamin B.

In the United States, Marmite is most easily found in health food stores. It is not terribly expensive.

To most sane, rational and intelligent folk, Marmite is of course the by-product of an extraordinary sociological experiment. The experiment is very simple: produce a substance with the appearance and consistency of tar, add various flavourings to ensure that the taste is unbearable, and then package it up neatly and place on supermarket shelves to see just how gullible the average consumer really is.

The fact that people can be persuaded to buy anything has been amply borne out by the fact that jars of this vile, inedble stuff regularly get bought by people who've been taken in by the marketing scam that just because it has yeast in it, it must be good for you. Yeast, for heaven's sake... it's a weird fungus type thing, not multi vitamins and iron!

Further proof of the madness of eating Marmite, although not required, is evidenced by the fact that the company has registered the slogan "I Hate Marmite" as a trademark.

Marmite was invented in England in 1902. It’s an extract from waste yeast from beer manufacture. The first Marmite factory was set up in Burton on Trent, which still is the center of England’s brewing industry.

Marmite is sold in a distinctive brown glass jar, with a yellow plastic lid. For a savory spread made almost entirely from the waste products of industrial food manufacture it is surprisingly tasty and expensive. A 500g jar will cost about £3.75 (Almost $7). It must be quite a profitable business!

It’s hard to describe the taste: Unquestionably salty, defiantly yeasty… but there is something else. According to the packaging that something else is a secret blend of herbs and spices. In most households this strong flavor is adulterated with bread-crumbs or traces of butter and margarine. This is because lazy people use the same knife for spreading butter and Marmite.

Although it had always been popular, it grew to fame during the First World War. Its nutritional properties were recognized; it was an ideal food supplement for troops. It was tasty, nutritious and can be transported easily.

I was introduced to Marmite as a student. We couldn’t afford much in the way of nice food, so buttered toast with Marmite became a standard component of our diet. Now that I am a professionally employed person I still love the stuff. One of my favorite snacks is to dip marmited toast strips into soft poached eggs.

The main rival to Marmite is Vegemite, made by Kraft foods. It’s similar in texture and appearance, but does taste different. This product is sold in a taller cylindrical jar. It seems to be more popular in other English speaking countries e.g. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. However both Marmite and Vegemite are available everywhere – both products have millions of admirers all over the world.

I love to eat marmite, spread thinly on freshly home-baked bread.

Yeast Extract,
Vegetable Extract,
Spice Extracts,
Folic Acid,
Vitamin B12.

Nutritional Information:
Per 100g
Energy - 996kJ/234kcal
Protein - 43.0g
Carbohydrates - 14.8g
of which sugars - 2.7g
Fat - 0.4g
of which saturates - 0.1g
Fibre - 2.6g
Sodium - 4.5g
Thiamin - 5.8mg - 414% RDA
Riboflavin - 7.0mg - 438% RDA
Niacin - 160.0mg - 889% RDA
Folic Acid - 2500µg - 1250% RDA
Vitamin B12 - 15.0µg - 1500% RDA
Per 4g serving
Energy - 39kJ/9kcal
Protein - 1.7g
Carbohydrates - 0.6g
of which sugars - 0.1g
Fat - trace
of which saturates - trace
Fibre - 0.1g
Sodium - 0.2g
Thiamin - 0.23mg - 16.6% RDA
Riboflavin - 0.28mg - 17.5% RDA
Niacin - 6.4mg - 35.6% RDA
Folic Acid - 100µg - 50.0% RDA
Vitamin B12 - 0.6µg - 60% RDA

RDA = Recommended Daily Allowance

Suggested serving 4g for adults, 2g for children.


French for cooking pot.

A marmite, filled with hot vegetable soup, played a decisive role for the defenders during the attempted siege of Geneva on the night of December 11 and the early hours of December 12, 1602. In Geneva this successful defense by pot is celebrated every year with chocolate marmite's, filled with marzipan vegetables, simulating the belligerent potted soup. In 2002 the 400th anniversary of the joyous incident (called locally "La belle Escalade" or simply "l'Escalade") is celebrated more thoroughly than usual.

Ducal aggression

In the beginning of the 17th century Geneva and Savoy were both independent states. Geneva was a Protestant republic and Savoy a ducal monarchy, a duchy. In 1602 Charles Emmanuel, the Duke of Savoy, decided to conquer Geneva, at that time a small walled city on a hilltop around the cathedral of Saint-Pierre, bordering to Savoy.

The attack was to be executed in two parts. First the elite of the Savoyan force, consisting of 300 native noblemen, would try to climb the city walls under cover of darkness and open the gates. Then the main force, 3000 French and Spanish mercenaries, were to take the city. The bold Savoyans were provided with foldable ladders, which were blackened to make them less conspicuous. They were to advance as silently as possible, in order not to be spotted too early.

Knowing the ropes

The 300 Savoyan commandoes left camp at 6 PM and arrived at the Geneva city walls at midnight. The sentinel passed without seeing them, but at 02.30 the guard in one of the towers, the Tower of Corraterie, heard a noise and called his superior. The alarm was sounded. Some Savoyans advanced toward one of the city gates, the Gate Neuve, which was held by thirteen Genevans. As soon as the guards saw the enemy, ten of them fled, two went into hiding and only one, Isaac Mercier, had the guts to do anything at all. He cut the rope holding the heavy vertical sliding door, which fell on the Savoyan demolition expert, who was just preparing to blow up the entrance. The Gate Neuve was saved. For knowing the ropes, Isaac Mercier got a Geneva street named after him.

Pot saves the day

The alarm had been sounded and by now thousands of armed Genevans were alerted and angry. The wife of a pot-maker and engraver, Pierre Guillaume Royaume, was apparently preparing vegetable soup in her marmite at this ungodly hour. Mère Royaume, as she is known to Genevan history, immediately took decisive action and threw the pot with hot soup on the Savoyans trying to climb up on their blackened foldable ladders. This, and maybe a few cannon shots, set the Savoyans running. Luckily, 67 of the Savoyans didn't run fast enough. The Genevans could treat themselves to 67 gory beheadings. The resulting 67 severed heads were on display in the city for several months, as tokens of the very first joyous celebration of "La belle Escalade", the Feast of the Marmite.

The 400th anniversary of "l'Escalade" (= the climbing of the walls) and the Marmite is celebrated by Genevan townspeople dressed in 17th century garb, enacting all the phases of their successful defense to the tune of trumpets, muskets and cannon, and - of course by consuming the traditional chocolate marmite's and their marzipan carrots, peas and similar imitated vegetables.

Ah, yes, and then you also have to remember to pronounce the French word marmite correctly: it is pronounced MARMITT, with the stress on the last syllable.


Luis Thévenaz: Abrégé de l'Histoire de l'Escalade, Chansons de l'Escalade, Edition Atar, Genève.

René Guerdan: Histoire de Genève, Edition Mazarine (1981).

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