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New Vegemite puts Kraft in pickle

Vegemite jar, Jan 06
Vegemite inspires strong reactions, being either loved or hated

It was never going to be easy tampering with a food spread considered iconic by some in Australia and New Zealand.

But when Kraft, makers of Vegemite, chose a name for a new variation - iSnack2.0 - public distress forced an embarrassing U-turn.

Kraft had chosen the name after asking for suggestions from the public, for a new, more creamy, cheesy Vegemite.

Three days later, the name has been ditched after complaints it was "the worst name ever" and "unAustralian".

One response said that web designer Dean Robbins, who says he submitted the name in jest, should be forced to run down the main street of Sydney "wearing nothing but a generous lathering of old-fashioned Vegemite as retribution for his cultural crime".

Passion

Among many thousands of suggestions were Cheesewax, Frank, Goo-dy, Brownie, Wow Chow and Ruddymite - a tribute to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

"We have been overwhelmed by the passion for Vegemite and the new product. The new name has simply not resonated with Australians,'' said Kraft spokesman Simon Talbot.

The company said it would once again throw open the challenge to Australians to come up with a new name and denied it had all been a publicity stunt.

"We are proud custodians of Vegemite and have always been aware that it is the people's brand and a national icon," Mr Talbot, said.

Thousands of the jars with the new name will be distributed to supermarkets ready to go on sale, ensuring that the soon-to-be-scrapped name becomes a collectors' item.

The new variation of Vegemite is sold alongside the original Vegemite - a dark-coloured, Vitamin-B rich, bitter but apparently addictive yeast extract.

Fans of Vegemite spread it on bread, among other things, and sometimes mix it with cheese, salad and peanut butter.

Vegemite was created 87 years ago by Australian chemist Cyril Callister for the Fred Walker Cheese Company in Melbourne, which wanted a Vitamin B-rich spread that could compete with Britain's popular Marmite.



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