Marmite is one of those products that you either love or hate; but if you love it, you really, really love it. Tasty, salty and intense, it’s not for everyone, but it has many fans who simply could not live without it. In fact, it has been named as one of the top food items that British people take abroad with them. Nowadays, Marmite is one of the most famous British brands, but not many people know the story behind it…


Marmite was originally invented,in the late 19th century by Justus von Liebig, a German scientist who is considered a pioneer of organic chemistry. Von Liebig was in the UK when he discovered, by chance, that brewer’s yeast could be concentrated, bottled and eaten. Soon after that, in 1902, the Marmite Food Company was founded in Burton-upon-Trent, a town with many breweries that could supply the Marmite factory. The original recipe for Marmite contained yeast extract, salt, spices, and celery, but the exact composition of the product remains a secret.

439 Marmite Istock



Marmite isn’t just a delicious condiment, but also a great source of vitamin B. This is the reason why British troops fighting in World War One received jars of the slick black spread as part of their rations. It also remained popular during World War Two, and more recently in 1999 it was sent out to British soldiers in Kosovo to help them deal with homesickness. In the 1930s, Marmite was used to treat anaemia in mill workers in India, and during a malaria epidemic in Sri Lanka it was given to people suffering from malnutrition.


Apart from vitamin B, Marmite contains many other nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron, which are essential for good health. Marmite is also rich in folic acid —it provides about 50 per cent of the recommended daily allowance per serving—, which makes it very good for pregnant women. Plus, it’s vegan and very low in calories. However, it’s quite high in salt.

Marmite can be spread on toast, crumpets, crackers, and it can also be added to any stew for some extra flavour. If you have never tried it and want to give it a go, have a very small quantity of it; otherwise, its intensity might be too much to handle!