Thursday, 12 August 2010

Marmite - an enquiry into the delicacy...


As the Speaker's wife has decided that she's a Marmite person, I assume she means that she's an acquired taste - loved by some, loathed by the rest. (Isn't a 'Bercow' some sort of statuesque ladies foundation garment or something...?)

What I want to know though, is why has Marmite become so runny?

When I was a Scroblet in the years after WW2, I could generally cope with Marmite, it could burn the top of your mouth and probably was fed it because somehow it was nearly a staple then, and acceptable at any table. However, I can easily remember that when I stuck my knife into the pot, to scoop out a dollop to spread it on the bread, it would leave a sharp indentation on the surface, which would last until the next teatime, and also leave my slice of bread (sometimes cut by my dear Aunt Con, who always liked it 'stale', and would hold the loaf under her arm to slice same), in tatters with crumbs all over the table and shrieks of indignation from yours truly!

Marmite wasn't runny then!

ED was a Marmite Baby, but YD took the title with Oak Leaves, and could put a couple of points on Unilever's share price most afternoons, just before Blue Peter! Mrs S still lives on Marmite, and, after a ten year dalliance with Vegemite, I'm back on the British brown stuff with a vengeance. I even saw a limited edition 'aged' version in Tesco recently!

But, why is today's Marmite so runny?

I think Bill Bryson referred to it as 'a brown substance or paste much loved by the British', or similar. And I suppose it is really. For that matter, I never understood the appeal of corn syrup, or bagels back then, but when we were in the US last, their breakfasts in dedicated restaurants beat anything stewed up by Little Chef into a cocked crash helmet! So at least Bill B. didn't lose the attention of half the poulation, and get bashed up by the rest of us!

So the runny Marmite question still needs to be resolved!

We've tried the squeezy plastic pots, and they gum up pretty damn quick, so we're back on the jars. We've yet to try the Marmite Oat Biccies as well. But we're totally addicted to Marmite on Multi-grain Ryvita! Mrs S would kill for the same every day, and would commit a huge felony if it was ever unavailable. She is unable to shed any light on the subject, and what's worse, I'm also in a quandary, because I immediately think that it has been diluted in some way...

And that's not British is it!

24 comments:

Thud said...

The modern urge to tinker is the cause of much unhappiness...we should stick with the American " if it ain't broke" etc.

rvi said...

Good question, why indeed??

When I was a nipper in the mid 1940s, my mum used to take me every couple of weeks to visit a (to me, then) very ancient great aunt (actually my gran's sister - who even then was older than I am now). We usually arrived around tea time and invariably I was asked: "Would you like a Marmite or fish paste sandwich with your orange juice?" I always chose the latter. Funny how, at the mention of a keyword, long forgotten memories come bouncing back out of nowhere.

I have not thought about those far off days for years; nor have I looked recently, but I suppose one can one still buy those little jars of (Shippams?) fish paste in the grocery shops.

Electro-Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Electro-Kevin said...

In the police we used to have a chap called Marmite.

He'd confused the jar with a tub of Vasalene mid coitus with a lush nurse from Barts.

I wonder if this is what Ms Bercow meant (as every bugger seems to have had her)

But in seriousness - what a self-publicist she is.

Philipa said...

I'm a marmite fan but the oat bars I found disgusting.

OXO cubes have gone the same way - they used to be squashy, you could take one out of the silver paper, intact, and squash it with your fingers and lick it till it was gone. You can't do that now, it's basically a barely held together cube of salt with some memory of flavouring attatched.

*sigh* the good old days, when food was food and er.. petrol was under £1 a gallon.

Electro-Kevin said...

... I remember when steak wasn't grey and didn't taste like boiled rubber. When milk and butter was full fat. Half fat = half taste.

Go into a good restaurant (not that we do anymore) and the food tastes sublime.

Simply because they use full fat

Scrobs... said...

You're right Thudders. I always try to mend things when they're busted, much to the occasional annoyance of Mrs S, because it may take me several weeks, but that's the way to do it in my opinion...

As for Marmite, I'me sure the recipe's changed!

Scrobs... said...

Now that rings several bells here Reevers!

I think however, I went for the Marmite, because I hated crab paste - still do actually...

Now fish paste is another story, and I've just checked to see if we have any!

We have!!!

Scrobs... said...

The thought of the situation with gal from Barts just makes me wander about in a daze Elecs...

The Speaker seems a bit of a weazel in his manner I'm afraid. (see posts passim), but his wife just seems to go from photo shoot to photo shoot!

Scrobs... said...

Oxo went the same way didn't it Pips!

I used to crumble Knorr cubes into water for 'soup', and was suitably sick several times afterwards...

*sigh* yup, and you could go to the flicks for five bob, and buy a pint for 2/2!

Scrobs... said...

It is the fat which is the nice bit Ekecs, but I couldn't do a 'Harry Ramsdens' these days...

Mind you, I'm not averse to a bit of crackling , but pork scratchings just don't do anything for me I'm afraid!

HenryJ said...

It's that long since Iv'e tasted Marmite,I just can't remember anything about it,putting the X into Oxo or should I say taking the square out of Oxo has made it just another tasteless nothing,Harry Ramsdens yuk,any chippy in Yorkshire using real lard and not oil mmmmm.

Scrobs... said...

And Elecs, you're in Mrs S' good books because of the 'fat' discussion...

Well done that man!

The Lakelander said...

I read somewhere that Marmite had gone up by something like 25% in the past five years.

Thankfully, I don't much like the stuff so I'm not affected!

Scrobs... said...

Henry J - Morning; OXO was invented not far from here, and you obviously know the story about the windows in the tower don't you?

As for Harry Ramsden's - well, nuff said...

Scrobs... said...

Lakes! That makes you a 'loathe it'!

Honesty will get you everywhere of course...

But what do you think about 25% less substance making it more runny...

Hmmm...

killemallletgodsortemout said...

"......and would hold the loaf under her arm to slice same.."

What a wonderful memory that evokes, Scrobbers! A paisley pinafore, arms like Desperate Dan's, crumbs everywhere - that was my Aunt Doll, who cut huge doorsteps of bread with an ivory- handled bread knife.

Marmite instead of Vaseline?

Try Tiger Balm instead of Vaseline. It's like being on a bucking bronco!

Scrobs... said...

"ivory- handled bread knife.
"!

That evokes a post on its own Killers!

I'll work on it!

Anonymous said...

I think the consistency has become more runny so that they can charge more for it in squeezy pots, and so the consumer isn't able to scrape off and keep the excess from the knife for the next Marmoid (Marmite snackage).

Scrobs... said...

I like the term 'Snackage', Anon!

I think you are heading for the answer, and unless Unilever get on the phone to me in the next few minutes, I'll make this explosive evidence available to everyo

Blue Eyes said...

Is it just that the ambient temperature in our homeshas increased since the days of austerity?

I think you are right though, it has been diluted somehow. It used to be that one would only need a tiny amount of Marmite to cover a slice but these days a metric lashing of the stuff is needed.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

I've noticed the change too, being as I am a marmite enthusiast Grade 1 since the age of about six.

I assumed they were just gouging us as per every other British business.

The stuff is just yeast residues from the breweries, with a lot of added salt, stripped down in a vacuum evaporator to reach the right consistency. Less vac stripping equals less energy used (cheaper!) and more water left in the product, which is then sold at the same price as the old harder drier "Mark I" variety.

Usual rip-off, in other words. Like smaller Mars bars, weaker Gin (Yes Gordon's, I'm looking at you), and so many other devalued items.

Anyone got a better theory?

Scrobs... said...

That's interesting Weekenders!

High-tech answers are what we need of course, and I came to the same conclusion - water is much cheaper than Marmite...

I did try leaving a jar in the fridge overnight, and it did seize up a bit though!

As for gin I'm with you there, although I have to confess to buying Sainbury's own brand at 37.5%, and hoping I'll never notice...

Chris said...

My own theory, which I'm 'sticking' by (gerrit?) - the change to runny Marmite happened around the same time as Squeezy Marmite, Champagne Marmite and other monstrosities. Someone at Marmite HQ is bored and wants to market Marmite to new 'target markets'. And get everyone squeezing it out of cheaper plastic bottles like ketchup instead of the glass "Marmites" (old French for cauldron) of which we are so fond. That's right! They want to make Marmite a condiment that you squirt on your chips, alongside the ketchup and mayo! This must not be allowed to happen.... boycott squeezy Marmite and register your displeasure. I once took a knifeful of a new jar, put it away, and then the jar got lost for over a year... when I opened it again, the knife mark was still there! THAT is Marmite!