Favourite Items – South African Halloween Jar

250g Marmite Halloween Jar

250g Marmite Halloween Jar from the “Don’t be afraid of the dark” promotion

One of my favourite jars in the whole collection is from one of my most favourite ever Marmite promotions, this is a 2012 Halloween promotion from South Africa.  The only other place in the world to have their only other Marmite factory (British Marmite that is, the original and best).

Don't be afraid of the dark

Don’t be afraid of the dark – Original Artwork by Andrew Ringrose

Marmite conducted research to better understand the South African youth and what they thought about Marmite. The results were astonishing – Marmite had very little relevance. How could this be? How can so many people not know about such an iconic brand? We needed to change this.

“If Mother didn’t tell you about Marmite, what else didn’t she tell you?” – A campaign line that brought to life everything unknown, interesting or downright bizarre. One thing your mother definitely didn’t tell you are scary stories – local and traditional- that spring from Halloween. Since we’ve positioned ourselves as the spread that tells you things your mother didn’t tell you, we thought it appropriate to connect the dots, and created a Halloween campaign that did just that.

The tactical Halloween campaign ‘Don’t be afraid of the Dark’ encourages people to be brave and try the original dark stuff, because there really isn’t anything to be afraid of.

Creative Directors: Jake Bester, Gareth McPherson
Design Directors: Dani Loureiro, Bridget McLaren
Art Director: Josh Foster, Andrew Ringrose
Copywriters: Jake Bester, Gisele Human, Neil Meyer, Craig Walford
Designers: Dani Loureiro, Bridget McLaren, Andrew Ringrose, Josh Foster
Illustrators: Dani Loureiro, Andrew Ringrose

The video is a brilliant time-lapse of the painting of a wall mural animation by Nick Herbert and Natalie Perel.  

How is Marmite made?

How does Marmite HQ create its magic to turn a load of wasted slurry into the beautiful dark brown spread that is Marmite. Approximately 50,000 tonnes of brewers years is trucked through the gates of the factory every year. Most of it comes from the local BASS breweries as well as Marston’s and Coors around the Burton area, where the brewers yeast has been procured since the inception of Marmite in 1902, but so much of it is needed they are having to collect from further afield to breweries to up and down the country and can never be sure, what strains of the yeast slurry they are going to get due to the different beers they are brewing at that particular time. Due to this, not every batch of Marmite is exactly the same, only fractionally different, but a keen palate can taste it.

Marmite Lorry

Marmite Lorry

The slurry is pumped out of each tanker into large autolysis machines where salt, enzymes and water are added to start the process of extraction. Autolysis is the process by which a cell will consume itself using enzymes contained within the same cell at a specified temperature. After this process, any remaining hops and other waste are removed which is reused by the agriculturalists as a soil conditioner that greatly helps to improve the soil’s properties, so even waste is not wasted. Unilever has promised to be 100% sustainable in keeping any waste from landfills by 2020, and already 18,000 tonnes of solid Marmite waste is converted into methane via an anaerobic digester which is used to provide 30% of the factory’s thermal energy.

Once the remaining liquid has simmered for a few hours, the evaporation of water has turned what is remaining into a thickened mixture and completely stable, this mixture is now filtered again to bring it to a paste and transferred into huge vats until needed. This whole process so far has been automated, but now as the blending begins and other ingredients are added, the workers of the plant come into play.

Customers are fickle characters and Marmite cannot fluctuate too much from the original recipe, hence the staff have to ensure that the basic ingredients for Marmite are perfect, and only then the secret ingredient is added, it’s a closely guarded secret, and only a handful of people know what is in this recipe. Once the Master Blender (St John Skelton who has worked in the plant for over 40 years) has passed the paste in the quality taste test, it is warmed to 40 degrees which is the optimum temperature for the Marmite to be a runnier consistency to pump via to the production line to the final part of the process – filling the jars. Unilever fastidiously tests the palatte of every worker. And the ones with the most finely tuned tongues are used to taste every batch.

Marmite jars ready to fill.

Marmite jars ready to fill.
Picture by Damien McFadden: 07968 308252

The filling of the iconic jars is another automated process from start to finish, the jars are manufactured in Germany at a pharmaceutical glass company. Overlooked by various engineers and computer operatives. The jars are checked for glass flaws or foreign objects using a Sidewall Inspection Machine, rejecting any jar that isn’t perfect. Once passed the jar is blasted with air to remove any dust and only then the jar is ready to be filled with Marmite and the lid is screwed on. As soon as the lid is safely screwed on, the jars are swiftly sent to the labelling section where the ultra recognisable label is added to the front and back of the jar and finally reaches the packing section where it’s stacked on pallets and is ready for distribution.

Marmite production

Marmite production

So now you can see how much work goes into changing the slurry that comes from the breweries into the wonderful paste that is Marmite.

Marmite – Love it or Hate it? One of the best ever straplines

In October 1996, Marmite launched a campaign using the strapline “Love it or Hate it“.

Nobody could have predicted that it would become such a massive effect on the brand and created it into an UK Iconic Brand.

Marmite - Do you Love it or Hate it?

Marmite – Do you Love it or Hate it?

The public embraced the slogan almost immediately, and started using it to describe examples of people or things that they weren’t too sure about. Some people were classed as being Marmite – you either love them or hate them. Even the celebrities have adopted the phrase, many classing themselves as a “Marmite person”

Almost 20 years later, the slogan is still going strong. So where did the idea for that strapline come from?

Marmite Love

Marmite Love

A Marmite spokesman spoke to the Burton Mail Newspaper saying that at the time, Marmite were using an advertising agency called Adam and Eve DDB. Strangely enough, with one of the team being a lover and one being a hater, the strapline came into its own naturally and pretty much mirrored the opinion of the nation to the savoury taste of Marmite.

A game manufacturer have even created a board game under license from Marmite, and won a £50,000 investment via Dragon’s Den. Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones loved the idea, however, at the time they weren’t allowed to reveal that they had an agreement with Marmite to create these games.

If you want to get hold of this game, here is a link to the Amazon page and the price shown at £9.99 is a saving of £8.00 the RRP.  I was at the launch of the game in London in September 2014, and it is a really good fun game for the whole family.  The NEW item is in stock, USED items are out of stock.  Amazon’s own product listing is very hard to see the IN STOCK next to the £9.99.



The Burton Mail

Walkers Marmite flavour crisps are back!

Marmite flavoured crisps are back – and, apparently, are here to stay.

Walkers Marmite Crisps

Walkers Marmite Crisps

Back when they were out in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, they were the most favourite crisps ever for me.  Even Marmite haters seemed to like the wonderful savoury taste.

This is part of a Walkers promotion to offer returning some well loved flavours.  The ones on offer are – Lamb & Mint, Grilled Cheese, Sour Cream & Chive, Beef & Onion and Barbecue.

As soon as I realised they were out, I rushed to the shops looking for my old friend that gave me such savoury enjoyment all those years ago.  In the end, I found it in Boots Chemist, of all places.  I didn’t even wait to go home, scoffing the whole bag as soon as I got in the car.  I really enjoyed the flavour and the crisps were in typical Walkers style of being translucently thin.   The flavour punch was missing though and as much as I enjoyed them, they weren’t on par with what they used to be, neither were they as “moreish” as the Tato (Golden Wonder) Marmite flavour crisps that come in the black bags.  I did go as far as buying a whole box of them though to join my box of Tato Marmite crisps.

Tato (Golden Wonder) Marmite Crisps

Tato (Golden Wonder) Marmite Crisps

It seems odd that after years of campaigning for the return of Marmite crisps, we are now spoilt for choice.  For newly hatched Marmite lovers, the Walkers pack is a great starting point before stepping up a level to the Tato packs which avid Marmite fans prefer.

Just to say though, that another flavour that disappeared silently, was another one of my favourites – Beef & Onion – I also bought one of these at the same time, and these were nothing like the ones that I loved so much back in the 80’s, I was very disappointed and will certainly not be voting for that one…………

If you want to vote for yourself, you can do so here Walkers “Bring it back”


Marmite not Mercury

Today the Marmite Facebook Page and other Unilever facebook pages have been hijacked by bandwagon jumpers come over from Government lobbying pages such as 38 Degrees and posts by certain celebrities.   The issue is regarding an problem that a previous subsidiary branch of Unilever caused 15 years ago – Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) formally known as Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL).  This company ran a thermometer factory in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu State, Southern India on behalf of Unilever Global.

The mercury thermometer factory was set up in Kodaikanal in 1983. In 1987, Pond’s India came into the Unilever fold through the larger corporate acquisition of acquisition of Chesebrough-Pond’s. Pond’s India, and with it the thermometer factory, merged with Hindustan Limited in 1998. (1)

The story that is storming around the internet is that all of what happened within the factory, the contamination of the lands, forests, atmosphere and water in the area is all Unilever’s fault as is the poisoning of the workers in the factory.  However, all it shows me through the article and linked articles are what is quoted, that two thirds of Indian firms are negligent against its workforce, not just in Unilever and there are Indian environmental laws being broken all over the Country, so it’s not a separate Unilever problem, this is a massive countrywide Indian problem.  The government needs to be responsible for what the businesses in their Country are getting up to, and not just sucking up all the rewards.

There has been a legal wrangle over this issue since Unilever closed the factory in 2001 after Greenpeace brought the illegal dumping of Mercury glass waste to Unilever’s notice.  From what I have gathered myself from trawling the internet, Unilever HQ were totally clueless that anything untoward was happening in the factory that was in breach of their guidelines regarding the correct handling and disposal of this mercury contaminated glass.

This summary has been taken from Unilever’s own page –
“Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL)1 did not dump glass waste contaminated with mercury on land behind its factory. Scrap glass containing mercury had been sold to a scrap dealer about three kilometres away from the factory, in breach of our guidelines. HUL immediately closed the factory and launched an investigation.

There were no adverse impacts on the health of employees or the environment. This has been confirmed by many independent studies. There was limited impact on the soil at some spots within the factory premises which required remediation.

With the necessary permits from the US and Indian governments, the recovered glass scrap was sent to the US for recycling in 2003. In 2006, the plant and machinery and materials used in thermometer manufacturing at the site were decontaminated and disposed of as scrap to industrial recyclers.”

Thermometers were a product line that was not core to Unilever but they were a source of export earnings to which the Indian government attached high importance. Given Unilever’s strategic decision to exit non-core product activities, the factory’s long-term future within the company was under review some time before the events described below. A decision to exit the thermometer business had already been made in January 2001.”

Now what’s annoying me about the whole thing, is what has this got to do with Marmite? There is no Mercury or thermometers used or made in Marmite or the Marmite factory, so why not just go on to Unilever’s own page and gripe about this?  There are several copy and pasted posts from dozens of people that don’t even think about what they have posted once they’ve done it and probably never opened a Marmite jar in their lives despite commenting that they have been a Marmite eater since birth.  The people are like sheep (sheeple), they just follow what is written on these campaign pages without doing their own research, like good little boys and girls.  It’s just post after post after post saying exactly the same thing, word for word.  Now how sad is that?  How sad is it that what they believe has happened in India is of so lacklustered important in their lives that they just do exactly what they are told to do, down to the last word.

How insulting to the people of Kodaikanal, these people that “think” they are doing their duty by following “orders” that they can’t even be bothered making up their own posts.  For me being a Marmite lover, reading about this catastrophe in the comments section of the facebook page has just made the disaster to the ecology of that area very unimportant, because that is how I see it coming across from the dozens of people posting on there.

What I want to say to these bandwagon jumping people is – Hands off Marmite!!, and move on to the Unilever Facebook page like the good little lemming that you are, and wonder to yourself how high up the importance scale this problem is when so many other catastrophic things are going on in the world. I am not saying that this is not tragic, but you’ve made it unimportant to me because of how unimportant it is to you.   If you want to make something important and that you believe something terrible has happened, give it a little more time in your lives than just copying and pasting a comment that someone else wrote, on a number of pages and then going on with typical Facebook life and sharing cat memes and videos.

You can read more about this at Unilever’s own page about it, where I believe they are being more than honest.

You can also read about the original Greenpeace webpage about this from 2001.

Unilever do need to step up and make good on this as it has been many years, but at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with Marmite……………period.  Keyboard activists need to remember that the real people who make a difference are passionate about their campaigns, they visit areas that are dangerous and put their lives at risk and are poles apart from the keyboard warriors.

If you really love Marmite, you can keep on enjoying it and be passionate in backing the campaign against Unilever.  At the end of the day, all that will happen if Marmite lose money is that Unilever will drop it like a hot stone and someone else will pick it up instead.  Do you think that creating a stream of unemployed people from the Marmite factory or the PGTips factory is going to rectify the problem in India, then you are sorely mistaken.

To say that Unilever has to step up responsibility and that they should be aware of what their subsidiary companies are doing is like saying a parent should always know what their children are doing for the rest of their lives, even after they have left home.  Unilever only have a 51% share ration in HUL, so why aren’t the other 49% being told to step up to the plate?

Unilever is NOT Marmite, it just happens to own the company.

(1) https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/what-matters-to-you/kodaikanal-india.html