What’s more Marmite than Marmite?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
October 24, 2019, 11:00 PM GMT+0

Contrary to what you may have heard, a lot of people are neutral on Marmite – many other things are much more divisive

You either love Marmite or you hate it. Or so the Unilever marketing people would have you believe.

In reality the yeasty spread is divisive, but not dualistic. According to YouGov Ratings data 46% of Britons have a positive view of the brown paste, and 36% have a negative view. But 17% are neutral.

So describing something that divides the nation as ‘Marmite’ is accurate. But that 10% gap between fans and detractors leaves room for an interesting concept: is there something more Marmite than Marmite?

In fact, by our reckoning, Marmite is only the 15th most divisive thing in YouGov Ratings.

We looked at things where the number of people who hold a positive view is most closely matched by the number with a negative view. To ensure we compared entities with a similar level of ‘fame’ as Marmite we only included things where at least 70% of people (after removing those with a neutral opinion) had heard of it.

Sitting atop the divisiveness list is All Round to Mrs Brown’s, the talk show spin-off of Mrs Brown’s Boys (which itself features 10th in the rankings). The 36% of Britons who have a positive view of the chat show are perfectly matched by the 36% who have a negative view. Long-time YouGov readers might not be so surprising to see Mrs Brown dividing the country so heavily, with our 2018 article looking at what sets apart fans of the show from detractors.

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Second and third place are both occupied by TV shows: The Apprentice is liked by 36% and disliked by 37%, while jungle reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is in favour with 44% of Britons but unpopular with 42%. Of the 14 entities more divisive than Marmite, eight are TV shows.

Marmite is not even the most divisive food on the list – that accolade goes to Twiglets in fourth place, with 35% of Britons holding the snacks in high esteem, compared to 38% who take a negative view. Food and drink items also more likely to split the public are Pringles Prawn Cocktail crisps, Fry’s Turkish Delight and Red Bull.

Together, TV shows and food and drink account for 13 of the 14 things that are more divisive than Marmite. The remaining entry goes to Simon Cowell, whom 36% of Britons hold in high regard compared to 40% with less than favourable views, putting him in fifth place overall. The public view of Cowell is in fact almost identical to that of one of his shows: Britain’s Got Talent, of which 37% like and 41% dislike.

Photo: Getty