Should you put any new Vegemite products on your shopping list? We tested the batch to find out.
A few years ago, it was all the rage for young Australian chefs to make their own version of Vegemite from scratch. These were thick, yeasty pastes, the color of the darkest dark chocolate, usually big on fermented umami flavors and a good dash of black garlic.
Lately, however, restaurants have been ditching homemade stuff for the real thing. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Vegemite is hotter than ever, appearing in curries, tartare, ice cream, martinis, dressings, sauces, and even fried chicken batter.
Not surprisingly, big retail brands and supermarkets are also getting in on the action with greater enthusiasm, taking advantage of powerful singles, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Smith’s Chips Vegemite gimmicks from decades earlier.
McCain set his vegetarian pizza loose at Coles and Woolworths last month (previously only available via IGA), joining Vegemite’s roasted chooks, hot cross buns and – shudders – baked beans. Green’s Vegemite Choc Chunk Brownie mix launched on March 1, which might be the worst-sounding use of brewer’s yeast extract yet.
However, are any of these items worth adding to your shopping list, or is it just that marketing departments have gone crazy? I tested and ranked nine Vegemite-enhanced supermarket foods to find out.
10. Cabbages Vegemite Scroll
The Vegemite scroll competition is fierce. Most independent bakeries have a respectable version of the stand-alone treat, and Bakers Delight and Brumby’s also sell decent ones. Coles needs to up his game.
I tried two scrolls, from two different Coles. One was ordinary at best; the other flat and dehydrated at worst. Things get tastier in the middle, where there’s more cheese and Vegemite, but at that point it’s too little too late. Stick to a soft white bun with Vegemite and a slice of Happiness instead.
9. SPC Rich Tomato & Vegemite Baked Beans
Kill him with fire.
8. McCain’s Little Cheese Veggie Pizzas
380g four-pack, $7.80
I’ve eaten more McCain’s frozen mini pizzas in my life than any other food item (Farmland fish fingers are a close second). They were a regular treat in my elementary school lunchroom and a constant home freezer throughout childhood. Frozen pizza was probably the first thing I learned to “cook”.
Unlike the instant noodles or the incomparable Zooper Dooper, though, there’s no nostalgic comfort here, just a dry base, the sweet and salty mix of tomato sauce and Vegemite, and cheese that seems somewhat out of place. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary.
They sold out at several stores I visited, so I’m guessing co-branding works, but I also wonder how many families will come back for seconds. Supermarkets are overflowing with half-decent pizzas these days; the Cheesy Vegemite Mini is not one of them.
7. Vegetables and Cheese
“A tasty mix of two Aussie classics,” says the label on this Bega and Vegemite cream cheese spread. And unlike, say, Golden Circle pineapple, Bushells tea and Tim Tams, Vegemite and Bega are Australian classics still producing Australian-owned brands.
So, it’s a shame that the spread is super salty (obvious, it’s Vegemite) and needs more cream to remove the sodium. I taste it with a celery shovel as per the serving suggestion, and make a face like a cat with its nose toward a lemon. Besides, isn’t it just the iSnack 2.0 with another name?
All of this only strengthens my hypothesis that Vegemite tastes better when slathered with loads of butter in an (admittedly foreign owned) SAO.
6. McCain’s Veggie Cheese Pizza Pockets
400g four-pack, $8.50
It’s been a minute since I ate a pocket of pizza. Is bread always this calcareous? And oh, so much bread too. The package photo led me to believe that these fist-sized discs would be packed with Vegemite and tomato paste, but the filling seems to be closer to a quarter of the net weight (and I can barely taste the presence of our toasted spread). favourite). It’s cheesy though, to be fair, with proper drops of the stuff that stretches like mozzarella in a 1980s Pizza Hut commercial. Now I just want a real pizza.
5. Vegemite and Cheese Le Snak
132g six-pack, $5
Confession: I quite like airplane food. Or at least I like the ceremony of removing different plastics and foils to reveal what’s underneath. Whatever breaks up a 12 hour flight, yeah? Removing the lid from a Le Snak had the same satisfaction in grade school, which is perhaps why I enjoyed this Uncle Tobys and Vegemite team-up so much.
The biscuits are so ordinary they make a wheat digestif taste like a wagon wheel, and there’s barely enough sauce for one of them, let alone three, but the pasta is full flavored and cheddar in the most nostalgic way. . Qantas, if you’re reading, send some of these in between meals.
4. Sprouts Vegemite Twist
138g two-pack, $2.50
A world away from the retail giant’s ordinary parchment effort. The puff pastry sheets are brushed with Vegemite, twisted, and baked to a golden, blistered, and slightly flaky fun time. It has a light but chewy texture, almost like it was made in a real bakery, and the use of Vegemite is restricted. I would eat again.
3. Roasted Chicken Collards with Vegemite
Coles seems to have a monopoly on Vegemite products. Woolworths doesn’t even have an official Vegemite cake, just a “Mighty” mini cheese roll with no-name “yeast extract paste” (and at the time of this writing, I can’t find it in any stores).
Anyway, I did this taste test expecting the Coles Chook to underperform, largely due to its “cheesy stuffing”. blerk. But hey, this is pretty cool! At least when it comes to supermarket chickens sold in sweaty bags. Vegemite adds a flavorful touch to the marinade and creates a tanner skin than your average bird. There’s only a whisper of Vegemite’s insane flavor, and the cheese filling is just your run-of-the-mill highly-seasoned breadcrumb crew.
A friend of mine has always said that her last meal on death row would be roast chicken and a pasta salad from Coles Deli. “You know exactly what you get every time.” I think she would be fine with this.
2. Arnott’s Shapes Vegemite and Cheese
For a long time, I believed that the only good way was a barbecue way (pizza fans are legion, I know, but they’re wrong, and Chicken Crimpy needs a blast in the sun cannon), however, these little maps of Australia might as well make its way into my pantry on a regular basis. Vegemite takes an undercurrent of the addictive ping of processed cheese, and these taste somewhat like a tougher, more flavorful cousin to the Twistie.
Other people must feel the same way because they sold out at two supermarkets, while Shapes’ other novelty flavors (epic garlic bread, sour cream and onion) were left behind. Eventually, I found a box of those mini-packs made for kids and I must have consumed five little bags in three episodes of Colombo Poker face. A week’s worth of breaks in one session: If that’s not the sign of a good snack, I don’t know what is.
1. Green’s Vegemite Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix
What was he saying? That a Vegemite brownie is the most ridiculous product to hit supermarkets this year? Something like that. In any case, relative to other packet mix chocolate treats, this moderately gooey slab is a bona fide winner. You can smell the Vegemite when you stir the sweetened cocoa mix with melted butter and two eggs (sold separately), but most of the abrasive flavors are baked in the oven, leaving you with toasty, honeyed, and salty caramel-style top notes. I’m kind of surprised Peters didn’t throw in a Vegemite-flavored ice cream to put on top.