Adults prefer the Aussie original
Thanks to Sarah Kempson from Royce for contacting me to sample the newly released kids version of Vegemite known as My First Vegemite ($3.89 RRP). I organised a blind taste test with adults (as kids weren't readily available) to see what they thought and everyone unanimously preferred the original version and could fairly easily tell which one was the kids version by its slightly less salty taste and more noticeable glossy surface. Some even thought it left a weird chemical taste in their mouth but I didn't really notice this. It's interesting but no surprise to see how most of the online media releases from the Herald Sun, The Age, Daily Telegraph, Yahoo News, Brisbane Times, On Food and The Australian say pretty much the same thing since they all must be regurgitating the same story and even though they all mention the 50 per cent less sodium none of them mention the increase in sugar which I've noticed simply by looking at the nutrition information on the jars. A more independent review by Scoop Nutrition includes a video of the Sunrise interview with Kochie who seems to think you shouldn't change it, although I can't tell if he's just being a bit tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic. The original Vegemite contains 2.2g sugar per 100g while My First Vegemite contains 4.7g sugar per 100g — that's more than a 200% increase and hence the 932kJ per 100g as opposed to 798kJ in the original. Some taste testers noticed it did taste a bit sweeter which I agree and I'm thinking perhaps this is what will make it more palatable to kids.
Having lower salt is a step in the right direction, plus I guess adding Vitamin B6, B12 and Iron (Ferric Phyrophosphate), but not at the expense of sugar going up. Perhaps this is a result of the inclusion of glycerine, which apparently can be used as a sugar substitute, and isn't in the original Vegemite ingredients. Nevertheless I've loved eating Vegemite as a kid and have fond memories of having it with heaps of butter between Vita-Weat crackers and squeezing them together to make imaginary worms — I'm sure I was eating more than the 2.5g serving size they recommend these days for kids. Today Vegemite remains a staple pantry item in my household which I love on toast with butter and a side of scrambled eggs. My mum used to and probably still puts a bit on her steak for dinner — crazy hey! Whether My First Vegemite will take off as a substitute for those looking for a similar taste with less salt or as an introduction to kids (or even adults) that don't like the original, waits to be seen. I've never tried the iSnack 2.0 come Cheesybite but one can't ignore the suspicion that the new My First Vegemite is a bit of a brainwashing strategy to get kids hooked on the taste which will continue through to adulthood — it worked on me although I started out with the hardcore stuff.
Nutrition information at a glance (per 100g):
Sodium: Vegemite 3450mg vs My First Vegemite 1720mg (50%)
Energy: Vegemite 798kJ vs My First Vegemite 932kJ (117%)
Sugars: Vegemite 2.2g vs My First Vegemite 4.7g (213%)
PROS: Contains less salt, Includes Vitamin B6, B12 and Iron
CONS: Contains more sugar, If you love the original Vegemite then you probably won't like the kids promoted version, An Aussie acquired taste for many
MUST TRY: Taste testing session for kids
Packaging: Vegemite and My First Vegemite — the distinctive orange lid reminded me of a vitamin supplement jar like Vitamin C tablets
Ingredients: Vegemite and My First Vegemite
Visual: Vegemite and My First Vegemite — new product has a noticeably more glossy surface
Vegemite and My First Vegemite on toast — oops I think I put a bit too much of the My First Vegemite
Nutrition Information: Vegemite
Nutrition Information: My First Vegemite
My First Vegemite adds B6, B12 and Iron with 50% less sodium. The kids on the jar look pretty happy but they're missing the signature smiles of Vegemite over their faces I think — and now little Johnny has girls germs!
Blind taste test
Option A: Vegemite on JATZ crackers
Blind taste test result
Can you taste a difference between A and B: 100% Yes
Which taste sample do you prefer: A
Do you think A or B or My First Vegemite: B