Once upon a long time ago, in the mid 1960s to be precise, a sweet little Hungarian-Australian girl named Lizzy (me!) stood in the school canteen queue, two cents gripped tightly in her hand, waiting patiently to buy a Vegemite crust for her play lunch. The outer crust of the soft white loaf was spread with creamy butter and finished with just the right amount of the (almost) black salty spread. If I close my eyes and concentrate right now, the aroma (and taste) of that combination is still there under my nose and on the tip of my tongue.
On other days, there were Vita-Weat biscuits in the lunch box, made with care by my mother. The crackers were spread with just enough butter and Vegemite so that, once firmly pressed together, they made tiny 'worms' of cream and salty goo ooze out of the holes in the crackers. These would be licked off with gusto, before the biscuits were devoured. Things that make you go Mmmmm, no?
A couple of weeks ago, Cadbury Australia launched Dairy Milk Chocolate with Vegemite, promoted on their web site as containing 'Dairy Milk milk chocolate with smooth flowing caramel and VEGEMITE'. If you click on the 'Treat-wise' ingredients link to learn that it comprises 70% chocolate, 25% caramel and 5% Vegemite. Of course there's also wheat, glucose syrup, emulsifiers, malt extract, colour and flavours in the mix. Not too much of the Vegemite though, I see.
The 200g blocks are selling for a 'limited time only' and, even though I was interviewed on the topic of this new chocolate (and other bizarre food combinations) by Mark Parton from 2CC, it took me a while before I bit the chokky 'bullet' (or in this case, chocolate block)... and parted with over $5.00 AUD to buy one from an independent supermarket, albeit begrudgingly.
So, how was it, I hear some of you asking. Well, I wouldn't line up for it, that's for certain. I nibbled on four or five squares across a couple of days. I wasn't sure initially and wanted to see if it was just my tastebuds being picky. But the final verdict from me was 'computer says NO'... and being milk chocolate it didn't help my LPR either. As for my Peter, who adores chocolate too, he really didn't like it at all!! (note the two exclamation marks).
Vegemite has always been one of those polarising foods. Either you love it or don't. As mentioned in my opening paras, I have eaten it since I was a youngster, although I'd struggle to remember the last time I actually bought a jar and there isn't any in the house. Peter hates it with a passion, which might explain why he spat this one out (literally).
I note that the writers at The Vine really don't like it either. If I may take a moment to quote them (with apologies, I don't wish to offend anyone here): 'Eating Vegemite is a great Australian tradition, but for normal people who enjoy things that taste good, Vegemite is a load of sh@#. A totally heinous blend of sweat stained socks, petrol, wasabi, live ants, and stale bread, melted together with the texture of drying phlegm and the colour of soy sauce.' Enough said. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What do my food enthusiast friends say...
Time to put the feelers out, folks. is chocolate with vegemite a good thing, or not?
Here's what a few of my food enthusiast friends across various networks had to say on the subject, noting that among these are chefs, food producers, chocolatiers, serious cooks and food writers.
Viviane: I haven't tried it but from what I saw of it and based on what Cadbury says, it seems a very innocuous way to introduce Vegemite to a chocolate. Given the saltiness of the Vegemite, adding a touch to caramel only really makes it a salted caramel with an edge of the Vegemite flavour. Honestly, the concept doesn't really attract me at all (but then I don't eat that brand of chocolate ever, so I'm not really the target market for this product). I do love Vegemite, however, but, as a chocolatier, I would probably use it in something a little more interesting. Food for thought for me!
Mate (Mah-tay): I thought it was like salty salted caramel filling and thought it was very interesting and nice. I am not a chocolate bar person, but it would be one I would buy again if I was in need of a quick bar of chocolate. I think using that filling with good chocolate, maybe dark chocolate, it might have its place in the market, but wow how good was the marketing?????. I would maybe buy one block of chocolate every year or two, and in the last couple weeks I have bought three vegemite blocks for myself and as gifts, and another flavour for the pantry for when people come over. Just think how many people like me have bought some chocolate when they usually wouldn't.
Andrea: Not sure of this combination, I like Vegemite, but only a smear on toast with lots of butter! I love chocolate also. So I think I'll buy a small block and try, am wondering if it would be an acquired taste similar to salty Dutch licorice?
Manuela: I am not a fan of Vegemite to begin with, but I really do not like it with chocolate. It's not the salt that I dislike (I love peanut butter and chocolate and salted caramel etc.), it's the vegemite flavour that in my opinion doesn't go well with chocolate. And I don't usually like Cadbury either... I am a bit of a chocolate snob. Viviane replied: Yes, from a food pairing perspective, it's not a particularly good pairing!
Charmaine: I like a smear of vegemite on buttered toast. Not game to try this choc/vegemite combo.
Sophie: Have not been that brave. But heard good reports.
Giulia: I love it - tastes salty and sweet, similar to what salted caramel is like! I hope they make it a continuous!!
Nick: Salted caramel that did not make it.
Anna: I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. It's edible, but not a natural combination of flavors. Wouldn't buy it, but if someone gave me a block, I'd eat it. 😋 How's that for a fence sitter answer.
Jane: Love, love, love Vegemite. That said, call me a coward but absolutely unconstitutional putting this combo together!
Fran: I simply cannot be bothered buying it. Not interested. And my children haven't asked me to buy it, they may not know it exists.
Danita: The only way I will eat Vegemite is with a very thin smear on hot buttered toast. Have not tried the chocolate. Not lining up to either. [Me neither, Dan].
John (Mr Frugii): Have not tried it but i have made ice cream using vegemite. If used in correct balance is not unlike salted caramel.
Sue: Loved it! It is a version of caramello chocolate with a touch of Vegemite only. Interesting and different taste, but also a little like salted caramel in taste. I love both chocolate and Vegemite, so am surprised I liked it at all combined.
Nyla: I have no desire to even taste it. I haven't eaten that brand of sweets since I discovered real chocolate!
Susan: I like Vegemite. But as for this chocolate. I didn't try it and most probably won't.
Fiona: I like Vegemite, but have been putting off buying the chocolate. Might give it a go though - have been curious about what it tastes like!!!
Bellinda: I love vegemite!! And I love chocolate. But nope, not willing to try it. In proper perspective though, I would in fact try eating spiced insects or otherwise shunned meat like cat or dog, were I travelling...but the Vegemite Chocolate is not even a little bit interesting to me.
Gary: I'd be delighted to share my thoughts on Vegemite chocolate. I was offered a piece at work and wasn't sure what to expect. When I bit in my mouth was hit by the liquid caramel and vegemite. I could taste the vegemite, but it wasn't overpowering like too much vegemite on toast can be. Quickly the flavour is almost quenched with the milk chocolate and then as that taste diminishes a lingering salty aftertaste of vegemite persists. I just had one small piece at work and then later that afternoon I sought out more. I went to Jamison but the Coles was sold out. I then went to Westfield and found some. I bought two blocks. A few days later I bought another two blocks. I've now enjoyed four blocks of vegemite.
Jeroo: You are braver than I.
Kristie: I could only say 'yuk'. I will never try it.
Lauren: The peanut and pretzel in that range is delicious! Having now tried the Vegemite one, I didn't like it at all. I'm a huge fan of chocolate, and of vegemite. Just not together. I had heard it was like salted caramel but I found it nothing like that. The lovely chocolate flavour was rudely interrupted by vegemite flavour, but not really actual vegemite. It was a quite jarring to my palate. Most definitely won't be trying more than that one square. My kids loved it though!!
Jennifer: No, just no!
Cassandra: Just wrong.
Carolyn: I didn't really like it. It was a bit like chocolate filled with strange tasting salted caramel.
Serina: I do most of my shopping at Aldi, and as they don't stock it, the thought of vegemite chocolate doesn't grab me enough to make a separate shopping trip. Curious, but not that curious. And, given the price, definitely not for this frugslista. Maybe I should just spread vegemite on milk chocolate and see how it is?! [Goes to the kitchen and does so]. Right, I tried that and quite like it schmeared on top. Kind of drowns out the sickly sweeetness of milk chocolate. I could get used to it. On top is nice as your taste buds get that first. Not sure what it would be like in the middle ... Ü
Thanks everyone. I greatly appreciated your input!
So, what is your opinion?
Now it's your turn dear readers. What say you? Is chocolate with vegemite a good thing, or not? Have you tried it? Indeed, do you like Vegemite? Please pop in and leave me a comment, I love hearing from you! (When responding, please remember to be polite and play nicely). Mwah xox.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.