Marmite's been around since a German chemist named Liebig developed in back in the late 1800s. The Marmite Food Company was founded in Burton on Trent in 1802.
Down the years it has been a staple of the British pantry - sent out to the troops in their ration packs in WW1 and WW2, and secreted into suitcases by those holidaying abroad, and ordered online by Ex-Pats who can't buy it in their far-flung corners of the globe.
Nigella Lawson claimed to have invented 'Marmite Butter' for making her children's sandwiches - but as this early advert shows, it was around before she was born.
The company has worked hard to retain public demand for their product, with some bizarre campaigns. The 'love it or hate it' was perhaps the most successful, with the term "Marmite" entering the language for something about which one cannot be ambivalent.
A few years ago, in 2008, a copy of Rodin's sculpture "The Kiss" was made from Marmite, and displayed in Greenwich Park.Jenny Fattorini, the artist, took 2½weeks to sculpt the 7 -foot statue from 420 jars of the dark brown sticky stuff!
Royal events have been commemorated too with limited edition jars
And the people of Burton On Trent have a "Monumite". A statue carved, in best Portland stone from down here in Dorset, of a Marmite Jar. It is in the park opposite the B-on-T Town Hall.
On a slightly more macabre note, at the funeral of Big-Brother contestant, Jade Goody, one of the floral tributes was a representation of a large jar of Marmite. I consider that rather a little strange. I did have a student boyfriend in my youth, who always carried a jar of Marmite in his briefcase, on the off chance of someone offering him a slice of toast!
A while back, the Daily Mail were ranting about Marmite being banned in Denmark. This was because you are not allowed to market foodstuffs with added vitamins there without prior permission [and M has lots of good B vits] In fact Unilever had never asked to market the stuff, so 'banned' was an inappropriate response, as the Danish authorities were quick to point out.
Vegemite, and other alternatives just do not taste the same. A firm in NZ produces Marmite, but I am told it contains added sugar and caramel. That sounds quite wrong to me. [Kiwi friend Carole, can you enlighten us about this one, please?]
My favourite use for Marmite is on thick slices of buttered toast accompanied by a mug of good strong tea. I also stir it into casseroles sometimes - and 1 tsp gives a subtle added flavour to a saucepan of home made carrot soup. Marmite and cucumber sandwiches are a teatime treat. I'm not a great fan of the peanutbutter'n'marmite combo. In the depths of winter, it makes a heartwarming drink if you stir some into a mug of boiling water.
Do you love it, or hate it?
And if you love it, how do you eat it?