He always explains very carefully to each host family that one spreads Vegemite "minimally" on a slice of bread or toast or a cracker as its taste is on the "powerful side"; and that a layer of butter between the toast and the Vegemite is absolutely essential to the taste sensation. en.wikipedia.org
Of course none of his hosts took any notice, thinking Mark was "winding them up" as to this weird 'down under' condiment, they spread it like they spread their jams, thick and luxuriously.
Mark Tronson expected this reaction, as it is common knowledge that international visitors treat this special, dark, smooth spread the same way. He knew what would happen. alldownunder.com
Even one slight taste of Vegemite sent them rushing for the kitchen tap and an urgent drink of water or something even stronger. Most shook their heads in horror and immediately knew where Australians get their flat 'down under' accents from.
One of Mark's hosts back in 1984 was working for the highly secret 'star wars' anti-ballistic missile program and he thought it was a great 'trick' to take it to his secret work place and share such 'exciting culinary delights' - he reported back that there was no end of tasters and all and sundry reported they had found the next secret 'poison' as they too rushed for the water dispensers.
Everyone wanted to know what Vegemite was made from. Mark Tronson said he gave each one the same answer as he gave his own four when they were tiny tots, (even now as a grand-father he's never changed this story).
"Emu beak and Kangaroo tail".
Of course, the real history of Vegemite and its ingredients is not nearly so colourful as this family joke, but it makes an interesting social commentary nevertheless and somewhat of a moral tale.
It was, in fact, a copy of the English Marmite that was developed from the yeast waste-products from the beer-brewing industry, when Marmite was unavailable during World War I. At first, the product did not sell well. Even Australians of the 1920s, it seems, had not acquired the taste yet.
It wasn't until Kraft Products took over Vegemite and pushed it in a comprehensive two-year marketing campaign that the sales really took off. By then it was 1939.
So it may not be the 'traditional Australian icon' that we now regard it as, but in reality Vegemite is now a staple diet for most Australians. It is certainly an acquired taste as it is very salty and not at all sweet (although the salt content has recently been reduced – from 10% to 8%!!). It was promoted as having a high vitamin B content, which it indeed does, and was considered an economical and nutritious spread for breakfast toast, school lunch sandwiches and picnics (perhaps with some cheese or cheese and lettuce on the sandwich as well). So whole generations of Australians have been weaned onto it and eaten it since they were tiny tots.
Anyone from elsewhere (other than England or New Zealand) finds the Vegemite taste "very different" to anything they've tasted before and many report it as tasting like soup bouillon – which in fact it does, and which it resembles. In fact, Mark Tronson's mother used to make a version of the invalid's 'beef tea' by dissolving a teaspoon of Vegemite in hot water, as a soup, for him to drink when he had been sick.
Recently Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd (former Prime Minister), like most Australians travelling overseas, had taken little jars of Vegemite as gifts. He was stopped at Customs to explain his Vegemite jar. Eventually he was let through. www.news.com.au
All this led Mark Tronson to contemplate the role of icons and marketing persuasion. This is rather a benign example, and as it turns out, Vegemite is really-truly laden with vitamin B and contains no sugar, so it is a healthy and tasty spread for sandwiches or toast.
However, the methodology of its incorporation into Australian culture is no different from the push-advertising and mass media campaigns for any new product in our society. He cautions Christians to be wary of the 'spin doctor', whether they be pushing a new food, a new vacuum cleaner, a new political party or a new religion. Remember the story of the golden calves as told in 1 Kings 12 verses 26-33.
He urges everyone to use our electronic media for good purposes, and to check the nature and history of any new product before 'trying just a little, spread on a layer of butter on a hot piece of toast.' Make sure it is the genuine Ten Commandments you are buying, and not simply the icon of the golden calf.