Love it, hate it: Its official!

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
September 23, 2011, 5:15 PM GMT+0

It’s official, the British public is evenly divided: a third loves it, a third hates it, and around a third says they don’t feel strongly either way. Our nationally representative poll of almost 2,500 British adults confirms that Marmite, the brown spread sitting innocently in the cupboard ‒ to the rapture or rancour of so many ‒ splits the nation like little else can.

  • 33% of Brits say they love it
  • 33% say they hate it, meaning that of those with a strong opinion, people really do either hate it or love it
  • 27% say they neither love nor hate it

The results are fairly even across the board, with women and men, older and younger alike, voicing similarly-divided feelings towards the famous spread. The only notable variation in our poll was among our Scottish respondents, who seemed much more indifferent, registering a low of 13% ‘loving it’, 33% ‘hating it’ and 38% falling neither way, compared to a South of England high of 44% ‘loving it’, 28% ‘hating it’ and 25% citing neither preference.

Product past

Marmite, made from yeast extract and packaged in a round tub approximating what in French signifies a large cooking pot (‘une marmite’), is extremely strongly-flavoured, providing a salty taste and smooth texture that is perfect, some might say, for spreading lightly on toast, among many other perhaps more experimental recipes sure to divide the public.

The version currently available in the UK was originally manufactured in Britain from 1902, but production spread to South Africa and beyond in later years. A different version, using a slightly different recipe, is produced and sold in New Zealand and Australia, where it faces competition with the similar, but, some would have it, vitally different product, Vegemite.

Tasty, tangy treats?

In Britain, many companies have launched products to capitalise on Marmite’s strong, ‘tangy’ taste, such as coffee giant Starbucks’s Marmite and cheese Panini, snack brand McVitie’s cheese-flavoured biscuits ‘Mini Cheddars’, and the Marmite brand’s own ricecakes and breadsticks. In 2009, Marmite also launched a flavoured cereal bar, and played on the brand’s own much-used ‘love it or hate it’ strapline to challenge perceptions surrounding the product in its advertising. Posters asked people if certain situations involving Marmite were ‘too much?’ (such as a man showering with it) before suggesting the cereal bar as a more palatable option.