It's not chocolate at all.
Whaddya mean you've never heard of it? It's made by Kraft!
Okay, I have to admit that Vegemite hasn't quite caught on here in the U.S.A. But it's a big hit in Australia, where according to the official Kraft Vegemite Website most people can sing the Vegemite jingle,"Happy Little Vegemites", on command (I guess kinda like how most Canadians can hum the original Hockey Night in Canada theme song).
Vegemite is a dark brown super salty spread that tastes a little like concentrated soy sauce with a yeasty beer aftertaste. The consistency is like cheez whiz. I personally like it, but remember that I'm a weird food enthusiast. For most people, it's definitely an acquired taste! Reminds me a bit of Japanese seaweed paste (but not as ocean-y) or Maggi seasoning sauce (if Maggi sauce were to come in a thick paste-like form). A little goes a long way -the thick layer I slathered on my toast this morning probably makes up at least 4 servings. According to the Vegemite Profile chart, today I'm a "slapper" (ie. I slapped on the Vegemite "like a brickie with a trowel"). Usually I'm a "wormer" but I was out of saltine crackers.
Made from brewer's yeast, Vegemite is a rich source of B vitamins and folate. Aussie "ankle biters" grow up eating Vegemite like American kids eat peanut butter. According to wikipedia, Vegemite is also high in glutamic acid, stimulating an umami (5th taste) reaction, which may explain its widespread appeal. In 2006, Australian ex-pats panicked when a story about an FDA ban on Vegemite started circulating (totally false).
I've never tried cooking with Vegemite, but I'm definitely intrigued by a recipe for Vegemite Pizza found on the official Vegemite website.
So where can you get yourself a jar of yeasty brown goodness? After searching high and low in New Jersey with no luck, hubby Kris was successful in Manhattan - huge thanks to our friend Janet for going completely out of her way to get me my Vegemite fix at Myers of Keswick in NYC (can't wait to try their English pork pies and sausage). And thanks to Don , Janet's Aussie contact, who pointed Janet in the right direction.
If you don't live in NYC, check your local import food market, the international food section of a well stocked supermarket, or order it online at several Australian, "Kiwi", or British food websites. Now you too can be a "Happy Little Vegemite"!
A note to all my Brit and Kiwi readers: I enjoy eating Marmite (Vegemite's bitter rival) as much as Vegemite, in fact, I kept a bottle of Marmite in my desk drawer at my old job for several years! I chose to feature Vegemite because I think the name is a bit more recognizable.