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Yeast extract is not only good for you, it's tasty as well. That's why, in 1922, a young Australian by the name of Fred Walker, decided to try to make a special "yeast extract" that would be as delicious as it was nourishing. The chief scientist in the company Fred owned, was Dr. Cyril Callister, and it was Dr. Callister who "invented" the first Vegemite spread. He used brewer's yeast from Carlton & United Breweries, and blended the yeast extract with ingredients like celery and onions, and salt to make a thick dark paste.

Fred Walker's new product didn't have a name, so he held a trade name competition to find it one, and in 1923, Dr. Callister's paste became "Vegemite".

Later on, in World War 2, soldiers, sailors, and the civilian population all had Vegemite included in their rations, and it got so popular it fell into short supply.

Fred Walker and Company Pty Ltd became KRAFT Foods Limited in 1950, but Vegemite will probably always be Vegemite. After all, it celebrated its 60th anniversary in October 1983, and to mark the occasion, they put a plaque opposite the site of Fred's original factory in Melbourne.

1997 - Happy 75th Birthday

Dr. Cyril P. Callister developed the Vegemite recipe in 1922 for the Fred Walker Company. Made from yeast extract, it is one of the world's richest known sources of Vitamin B. A competition for a £50 prize to find a name was run, and Vegemite was the winning name. In 1926 the Fred Walker Company became the Kraft Walker Company later to be known as Kraft Foods Limited. Vegemite had to be rationed during World War II to ensure supplies for the armed forces. The post war baby boom created a huge market for Vegemite, as Australian mums knew how good Vegemite was for their young children. And mums loved the taste of Vegemite too! The "Happy Little Vegemites" song was first performed on radio in 1950. Australian kids love to eat Vegemite on their toast and in sandwiches. And so do grown-ups too!

NAME: Walker, Fred (1884 - 1935)

Born: Australia (Hawthorn, Vic) Industrialist

Walker was managing director of Fred Walker & Co. from ca 1921 to 1935. The company began marketing the commercial yeast-extract "Vegemite" in 1924. In 1926 he formed the Kraft Walker Cheese Co., together with James L. Kraft of Chicago, to manufacture processed cheese. Born 5 January 1884. Died 21 July 1935. Worked for J. Bartram & Sons, produce and export merchants 1899-1902, set up his own import and export business, Fred Walker & Co., Hong Kong 1903-08, importer and exporter, Melbourne 1908-10, began canning food for export 1910, began to manufacture Bonox 1918, expanded to Sydney 1918 and Adelaide and New Zealand 1919, formed a new company, Fred walker & Co.,ca 1921, marketed Vegemite 1924, formed the Kraft Walker Cheese Co. in May 1926 to manufacture processed cheese. Endowed the Fred walker prize for postgraduate chemistry, University of Melbourne.


It is rumoured that U.S.A Custom officials banned vegemite after reading this website and noting that it may explode. Here is another theory....


United States Bans Vegemite
Written by PoizonMyst
Published October 23, 2006
See also:
Ľ Day By Day for October 23, 2006
Ľ Laying Down the Badge
Ľ The Cochise County Bad Guys: Johnny Ringo & Curly Bill

Well this IS a curious issueÖ and Iím not a happy little Vegemite!

America has decided to make its opinions quite clear about Australia's favourite black breakfast spread by banning its importation into the United States. I understand Vegemite is an acquired taste, but we Aussies can't resist the tasty yeasty properties of beer residue and this ban is preventing Aussie tourists from sharing this unique condiment with our American mates, not to mention the effect this crackdown is having at the breakfast table of our expatriates.

About Australia, a US-based store providing American consumers with traditional products from Down Under, was forced to stop importing Vegemite six months ago; however the product was actually limited to 113gram (4oz) jars in 2005. Expat Daniel Fogarty, now living in Canada, was recently searching for Vegemite while crossing the border on a trip to Montana. Other travelers have had their jars of Vegemite confiscated. This insult to our national iconic symbol is almost as un-Australian as politicians banning the word 'mate' in Parliament. Oh wait, that did happen.

So what's the big deal? What did Vegemite do to offend our brothers in arms? After all, it might be a little salty on the palate, but it's packed full of healthy stuff, in addition to that good ol' Aussie spirit!

At the bottom of this bizarre prohibition is the US Food and Drug Administration (of course), who say they disapprove of the addition of folate to anything other than bread or grain products such as flour and pasta. Hey, I donít know what the FDA has been spreading their Vegemite on either, but spread on bread is what it's meant for!

Okay, time for the serious stuff. Exactly what is folate and why is it so bad?

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin found naturally in green vegetables, legumes, liver, and some fruits and nuts, not to mention yeast extracts. It works in conjunction with B12 (also present in Vegemite) to produce the genetic materials for cell growth and reproduction. Folate helps to build proteins and healthy red blood cells, which means it is an important nutrient in the defence against anemia. Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest that high folate intake can reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Sounds like pretty good stuff, right? The FDA thinks so, too.

In 1998, after several years of deliberation, the FDA ruled on regulations for the mandatory addition of folic acid (the synthetic equivalent of folate) to breads, cereals, and other grain products, to assist in the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Nine months after the policy was introduced, incidence of spina bifida was reportedly reduced by 31 percent. However, it is argued that the supplementation is inadequate and many more cases of birth defects could be avoided with a higher dosage.

Nevertheless, the FDA purports to the theory that too much folate can mask vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly and, they argue, Vegemite contains just too much. Iím thinking the FDA hasnít been reading the nutritional information panel on their jar of Vegemite, which suggests a 5 gram serving for 50% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of 200 micrograms of folate per day, or 400 micrograms for women of childbearing age.

Not only that, the Institute of Medicine has established a daily upper intake level (UL) of no more than 1000 micrograms of folic acid so as not to mask symptoms of B12 deficiency.

Thatís an awful lot of Vegemite, even for an Aussie. Just how much Vegemite is the FDA slapping on their slice of toast?

Reprinted from the website blog: