Love it – or hate it … or both … when we were growing up after the War – we would have Bovril as a drink when we were ill in bed or recovering, or Marmite as a spread to help us get better or later on … just because that’s what we liked …
So ours were two distinctly different kitchen items … now I have just one: Marmite.
Marmite is the vegetarian version … as I’ve just been told this by the Chairman of our local Astronomical Society … I’m fairly certain it is true?!
|We don't get these at our meetings ... coffee and|
biscuits: this would make a good student lunch -
perhaps x two slices! Marmite and cheese on toast.
We were at our local Geology meeting – where we’re discussing galaxies and stars … the precursors to ‘us’ … and life on earth. Don’t ask … posts will appear one day! Dark Matter will be first …
Back to the subjects of this post …
It appears that Bovril has the longer history … in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1), Napoleon III ordered one million cans of beef to feed his troops.
Strangely, well I find it strange, this task went to a Scotsman living in Canada (John Lawson Johnston). Transport and storage were problematic … and thus Johnston created a product known as ‘Johnston’s Fluid Beef’ …
|Early poster - about 1900 AD|
In less than 20 years (by 1888) over 3,000 UK public houses, grocers and dispensing chemists were selling Bovril. The name coming about from the Latin bos for “ox”.
|Sci-Fi fans ... se my post|
Johnston took the vril suffix from Bulwer-Lytton’s then-popular novel, The Power of the Coming Race (1870), whose plot revolves around a superior race of people, the Vril-ya, who derive their powers from an electromagnetic substance named “Vril” … thus we have Bovril … and a Sci-Fi link …
Now to Marmite … ‘Marmeet’ … this is made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing … a way of cutting down on one’s pint perhaps … or increasing said drinks because of the salty nature of Marmite.
|A stylised French Marmite pot -|
casserole or stock pot
It’s not obvious why it was named ‘Marmite’ – but could have been because of the earthenware pot, similar to the French ‘Marmeet’ cooking pot, that the product was originally sold in.
A German scientist, in 19th C, discovered that brewer’s yeast could be concentrated, bottled and eaten. By 1902 the Marmite Food Extract Company was formed in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, England near the Bass Brewery, which would supply the essential yeast by-product.
a bar at the
Folies-Bergere: 1882 a bottle of
Bass Beer on the table
At the turn of the 20th century, there seemed to be an ‘exponential’ expansion of its popularity ... when it was distributed around the world.
By 1912, the discovery of vitamins was a boost, as the spread is a rich source of the vitamin B complex … eight water-soluble vitamins essential to good health. The British troops in World War One were issued with Marmite in their rations.
|Copied from "The Week" ... but many would like|
a marmite well!
It is a valuable source of Folic Acid … a supplement during pregnancy, and now many countries require it to be in certain foods as a measure to decrease the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. It is exceedingly helpful in overcoming beri-beri, wherever it is prevalent.
The company, Bovril, took over Marmite, but now both brands have been subsumed into Unilever …
|Puff Pastry cheese and marmite wheels|
The choice probably is … the one you’ve grown up with … I would drink Bovril, but smear or spread Marmite … while both can be added to savoury dishes to bring some zing …
Marmite on toast … Marmite with Cheese … both would warm the cockles of my heart – normally called tummy! Cheese Straws or Cheesy puff pastry rolls – good for party snacks …. Marmite soldiers for young children (or old for that matter!) …
|Toasted Cheese and Marmite sandwich|
Bovril apparently is an icon of British culture … it is commonly associated with football culture … that’s put me off somewhat! Still I don’t own any Bovril now … but a flask of Bovril would be put to good use if caught in a winter storm …
We have Mandela featuring again … in his book “Conversations with Myself” in 1980 he mentioned he’d like some marmite!
But …. a hundred years ago the Pope had the last laugh … Bovril holds the unusual position of having been advertised with a Pope – as you can see Pope Leon XIII seated on his throne, bearing a mug of Bovril … see the slogan:
“The Two Infallible Powers – The Pope and Bovril” : a 1900 poster …
Well now it’s lunchtime and this has got me very hungry … I’d better round this off and disappear to my kitchen larder and rustle up a marmite sandwich!!
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