Thursday, October 8, 2009

Early Vegemite promotions: poetry competitions with imported American Pontiac cars being offered as prizes.

Fred Walker's company first created and sold Vegemite in 1922.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In 1919, prior to the introduction of Vegemite, Sanitarium Health Food Company began manufacturing a version of Vegemite's biggest competitor Marmite, in New Zealand and shipping it to Australia. Vegemite was invented in 1922 by food technologist Dr. Cyril P. Callister when, following the disruption of British Marmite imports after World War I his employer, the Australian company Fred Walker & Co., gave him the task of developing a spread from the used yeast being dumped by breweries. Callister had been hired by the chairman Fred Walker. Vegemite was registered as a trademark in Australia that same year. The registration was later transferred to Kraft, a US multinational, which has maintained an interest in Vegemite since 1925. Callister used autolysis to break down the yeast cells from waste obtained from the Carlton & United Brewery. Concentrating the clear liquid vitamin extract and blending with salt and celery and onion extracts formed a sticky black paste. Following a nationwide competition with a prize of £50 to find a name for the new spread, the name Vegemite was selected out of a hat by Fred Walker's daughter, Sheilah. Vegemite first appeared on the market in 1923 with advertising emphasising the value of Vegemite to children's health but failed to sell very well. Faced with growing competition from Marmite, from 1928 to 1935 the product was renamed as Parwill in order to make use of the advertising slogan, "Marmite but Parwill", a convoluted pun on words ie: "Ma [mother] might [like the taste] but Pa [father] will." This attempt to expand market share was unsuccessful and the name was changed back to Vegemite, unfortunately as Parwill it had lost market share and did not recover. In 1925 Walker had established the Kraft Walker Cheese Co. as a joint venture company with J.L. Kraft & Bros to market processed cheese and, following the failure of Parwill, in 1935 he used the success of Kraft Walker Cheese to promote Vegemite. In a two year campaign to promote sales, Vegemite was given away free with Kraft Walker cheese products via coupon redemption and this was followed by poetry competitions with imported American Pontiac cars being offered as prizes. Sales responded and in 1939 Vegemite was officially endorsed by the British Medical Association as a rich source of B vitamins. Rationed in Australia during World War II it was included in Australian Army rations and by the late 1940s was used in nine out of ten Australian homes. Vegemite is produced in Australia at Kraft Foods’ Port Melbourne manufacturing facility which produces more than 22 million jars per year. Virtually unchanged from Callister's original recipe, Vegemite now far outsells Marmite and other similar spreads in Australia. The billionth jar of Vegemite was produced in October 2008.

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