Thursday, July 03, 2008

Haan, mujhe Marmite se Pyaar hai!

This is an article from the Times of India, 18 Jan 2002. The page no longer exists, so I extracted it from Google's cache, since it deserves to be preserved for posterity. I only found it while looking for shops in India that might sell a breakfast spread known as "Marmite".

My grandfather discovered Marmite during his studies at London School of Economics, way back in 1920's or whenever. Somehow we had a stash of the yummy gooey stuff when I was growing up, way back in 1980's. Then suddenly they both disappeared from our lives-- grampa and Marmite.

Last month I accompanied a cousin for some mundane grocery shopping in a Singapore mini-mart and what do I see, a gleaming bottle of Marmite, looking exactly as it did years ago, sitting there alone on the shelf. After a moment hesitation, I grabbed the $4 bottle and got her home. Alas, I fell in love with it all over again and so did my dad! I say alas because I haven't found any store in Bangalore selling this yet, including the often-dependable "Spar".

Until someone's coming over from Singapore, then, we can but scroogily apply the manna on our daily bread.... and pray.


Now for the article I found on TOI:

"Marmite is more than a simple food product: it is a cultural icon, a national symbol. Marmite toast soldiers (dipped into soft-boiled eggs, of course) are as nostalgic as any Madeleine, and as comforting as a pair of old pyjamas. Toddlers thrive on it, armies march on it, and it travels abroad in the suitcases of an estimated 11 per cent of British holidaymakers. This year (2002) Marmite celebrates its centenary and Marmite mania is upon the Brits as they salute the enduring, reassuring qualities of the gooey, brown savoury spread in its design-classic jar.

The use of spent brewer's yeast as a food source was discovered in 1680, but it was not until the 19th century that Louis Pasteur and the german chemist Justus von Liebig found that it could be made into a concentrated, savoury vegetarian food that resembled meat in appearance, smell and colour. It was first manufactured for commercial purposes by the Marmite Food Company Ltd in 1902, at a disused malthouse in Burton-on-Trent; today it is a top 100 food brand valued at #30 million, and the largest brand in the deliciously titled ambient spreads market.

In 1912, the discovery of vitamins helped to boost the popularity of the product when it was realised that Marmite provided a good source of five B vitamins (hence its long-running advertising slogan: the growing up spread you never grow out of). During the first world war, Marmite was given to soldiers to combat beri-beri; in the second world war, it became a valued dietary supplement in prisoner-of-war camps. In 1999, it was sent to peacekeeping forces in Kosovo after the company received a letter begging for jars to boost morale.

Realising how severely split the public was, Marmite launched the you-either-love-it-or-hate-it advertising campaign, with such brilliant micro-dramas as the couple who arrive home desperate to have sex. She has a bite of toast with Marmite, kisses him, and he gags disgustedly. As the ads point out, there will always be those who regard the spread as devil's spawn; when it comes to Marmite, there is no middle ground."


Wonder if any fans of Marmite in my readership?


Mama - Mia said...

i think its devil's spawn!! :p

i thot your article had got published in ToI! you bit was really well written!!

but still for the life of me i cant undersatnd how can you LOVE that burnt yucky taste!!

but then the ad says it all!! you have covered the whole ground!! ;)



Swati said...

LOL!! We plan to meet both of you on next saturday. So be there :)

Anonymous said...

This one's for you:

Vidooshak said...

Thanks OJ. so good to read another ode to marmite. now if only someone can tell me where to BUY it in Bangalore? for now, a generous cousin has shipped some more from Singapore. YUMMMM

the mad momma said...

oh but you get it everywhere now i think. i got it in chennai and hyderabad. maybe the next time you know someone going to b'lore from delhi i can send you some!

followed your comment back... nice to meet a fellow marmite lover.