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What is Australia's Best Invention?

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by Justine Crowley (subscribe)
More of my written work, including my books: Runs the following sites:
Published January 26th 2013
Vegemite has stood the test of time

Australia is a country that is known for some of its top innovative designs. A recent visit to a Powerhouse Museum of Science & Design in Sydney prompted this question. There are so many great inventions, all with their own merits. They all make our lives much easier, and they have all solved a common problem.

What is Australia's best invention? Personally I would say Vegemite. A spread that is popular among adults and kids alike, and has stood the test of time. Although Vegemite is not as popular as it might have been in the 80's or 90's or earlier, it is still a universal food item that is spread on our toast and in our sandwiches.

The challenge in coming up with an invention such as Vegemite was in how to develop a tasty spread using some vitamin rich yeast that otherwise would have gone to waste. A yummy yeast extract at that, of which goes well with cheese. Like Marmite, yet nowhere near as sweet.

Food technologist Cyril McAllister was onto a good thing with the creation of Vegemite. It wasn't easy. Vegemite was created in 1922, and then a competition ran in 1923 to come up with a name for this concentrated yeast extract that is also great on crumpets. Vegemite was pulled out of a hat. Free product giveaways and promotional sales with competitions were attached as the norm until the product gained consumer acceptance. And the rest is history. Other countries, including America, have taken a shine to this top Aussie invention.

At one stage Vegemite was called Parwill to align with Marmite, yet the efforts to increase market share were not successful. Later on Kraft became the manufacturer and distributor of Vegemite, and Vegemite was also used as army rations in the world war eras. This makes sense as the spread has some B Vitamins which is great for iron stores in the body. This spread only became accepted in the 1940's, at that time in Australia, about nine of out every ten households used Vegemite. It just goes to show far Vegemite has come. In 2008, the billionth jar of Vegemite was produced. There have been a couple of kid friendly versions, such as Cheesymite launched on the market - also from Kraft, and franchised bakery, Bakers Delight, also sells the cheese and Vegemite (cheesymite) rolls.

Vegemite comes in all different sized packaging

In closing, what do you think is Australia's best invention?
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Didgeridoo for sure and Boomerang close second.
by Lucy (score: 3|1155) 2104 days ago
I'm a big fan of the humble Hills Hoist as well. But I fall into the "They don't make 'em like they used to" category. We just had to pull out our ancient Hills Hoist because it finally died and the new ones are no where near as good.
by Where I Holiday (score: 2|338) 2085 days ago
Yay, Vegemite!
by fluffynut (score: 2|867) 1414 days ago
Hills Hoist rotary clothes line
by brili (score: 1|28) 2113 days ago
The original Heat Wheat Pillow. Made and developed on The Gold Coast in Queensland. This has given portable organic pain relief to millions of people and animals around the world since 1991 and continues to do so.
by Alise (score: 1|28) 2113 days ago
Wi-Fi, invented by CSIRO engineers.
by gjami (score: 0|8) 2088 days ago
The aircraft "black box" data recorder.
by gjami (score: 0|8) 1412 days ago
I think Heat Wheat Products (hot packs) come close for portable, drug free pain relief!
by Alise (score: 1|28) 1411 days ago

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