My husband is a great dad who loves to tell tall stories around the dinner table sometimes, much to the children's delight. With a twinkle in his eye, and a slight curving up of his mouth at one side, he will start telling the kids a story... if they think it's one of his funny tales they will yell out, "Dad, you've got your Marmite smile!", to which we would all know it's a funny tale rather than a true story.
What is a "marmite smile" you ask? Well, it was the very first one of his tall tales that was told around the dinner table one night. I've asked him again and again to write the story down, and finally he has published it on his site here symondrake.com: Marmite Story and let me share it here for you to read as well.
It's slightly eeeeewwww but also quite cute (for those who don't know, Marmite is a New Zealand spread that many Kiwi's enjoy).
While eating breakfast the other day, my daughter asked, “Daddy, where does Marmite come from?” “Well, Princess”, I told her, “That’s a long story. Truth is that most people don’t really know. Good thing your daddy does.
The story, as I remember it, goes a bit like this…
In the land of Somalia, near the city of Mogadishu, lives a very rare type of Marmoset. (Marmosets, for those who don’t know, are cute little tiny monkeys… so cute and tiny, that they can quite happily sit in the palm of your hand.)
Somalian Marmosets are very special, because they are the only Marmosets in the whole wide world which are troubled by a very rare kind of black mite (Mites, for those that don’t know either, are not so cute, but still tiny, insects that make their homes on other animals).
These Mites, which have taken a fancy for living in the fur of the Marmoset’s hind quarters, are simply called Marmoset Mites, or, you guessed it, Mar-mites for short.
If you have ever had Nits, as I have (my mum once told me, that nits only liked the cleanest children’s hair), you would probably know what a Nit comb is. If you don’t (maybe you don’t shampoo you hair enough), a Nit comb is a special comb that catches Nits.
A Mar-mite comb is very similar to a Nit-comb, only different. With trusty Mar-mite combs in hand the local “I-heart-Marmosets” fan club meet together every Sunday after Church to give all the friendly local Marmosets belly rubs and a good comb over (especially on their hind quarters), to rid them of all the pesky Mar-mites.
Now one day, a certain little boy called Johnny (his friends called him Johnny), being dragged along to the weekly Marmoset grooming every Sunday by his mother, had an idea. He thought about what it would be like to eat a Mar-mite.
You may think it is disgusting to eat something like a Mar-mite, but you and I both know that some children (and some grown-ups too) have put much worse things in their mouths… (sniff).
Johnny squashed one inbetween his fingers and taste-tested the black goo. It tasted good. Really good! He couldn’t believe how good the Mar-mites tasted, and began telling the grown-ups all about his amazing discovery.
As you can imagine, most thought it was a horrible idea to eat a Mar-mite at first, but one-by one, convinced by little Johnny’s enthusiasm, the entire fan-club discovered the amazing taste of Mar-mites. They were so excited, that they changed their name from the “I-heart-Marmosets” fan club to the “I-heart-Marmosets-but-I-heart-munching-Mar-mites-much-more’ fan club that very day.
Every 4th Sunday after church the members of “I-heart-Marmosets-but-I-heart-muching-Mar-mites-much-more” fan club (or the IHMBIHMMMMMFC for short) bring buckets full of Mar-mites (which they have collected in their Mar-mite combs) to the IHMBIHMMMMMFC president’s house and have a ‘bring-and-share lunch’ around the swimming pool. There is no water in the pool, and while nattering over bikies and a cuppa, the Mar-mite buckets are emptied into the pool, which is no longer empty but full of Mar-mites up to ones ankles!
Everyone then spends the afternoon taking turns squishing the Mar-mites with their bare-feet! If you think that’s really disgusting, that is exactly how wine is made (true story – ask your parents!)
The black gooey goodness is collected in small glass jars and taken home to be spread on toast, or to give away to family and friends.
And that is the true story of where Marmite comes from.
Now when you tell your parents about this story, they will probably tell you (as most grown-ups do) that it is a ridiculous made-up story, just like all other fairy tales, and not to believe it.
It’s probably best kept secret anyway, because if Animal Rights Activists knew the truth that Mites are squashed to make Marmite, it would be the end of the entire operation, and there would be no more Marmite! (so don’t tell anybody.)
Next time you have some delicious Marmite look very carefully, because sometimes, if you are very lucky, you may see a tiny leg of a Mar-mite (that hasn’t been squashed completely) when you spread delicious Marmite on your Breakfast toast and you will know that this story is true.
“Where does Vegemite come from then?” I’m sure you are wondering. Well… that story will have to wait for another day.
Every once in a while, a person who hasn’t scrubbed his or her feet, while squishing the Mar-mites, gets some toe-jam in the mix. Luckily, (by a top secret process that even I don’t know about) the toe jam gets filtered out, and also put into glass jars. This is sold all over the world, not as toe-jam (because that sounds a bit gross), but as Peanut Butter.