In 1981 the Australian Rock/Pop group Men at Work were topping the charts with their hit song 'Down Under.' It's a catchy, fun piece of musical candy that you've probably heard a thousand times. The video was awesomely quirky too. Talk about vintage 80s. Take a look.

The second verse of the song has the infamous line about a vegemite sandwich,

I said, do you speak my language?

He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich

and he said, I come from a land down under

I've wondered about vegemite since the first time I heard the song when I just a kid. What the heck is it? What does it taste like? Is it good? This song came out long before the internet. There were no easy ways to learn about vegemite in 1981, unless your parents happened to have an encyclopedia set or they felt like giving you a ride to the library. Even so, reading about a weird Australian food item is certainly not the same as actually tasting it. Today, after 40 years of curiosity, I finally had the chance to eat vegemite. Here's how it happened.

Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media Billings
Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media Billings

When we went on a family trip to Hawaii last year, we ended up sharing a tablespace with an Australian couple and their two children at a luau. An impromptu friendship developed and my wife has kept in touch with them via Messenger for the last year or so. They're kind of like our digital pen-pals from Down Under.

Anyway, they surprised us over the holidays with a package of cool stuff from Australia, including unique snacks from their country. OMG, the Tim Tams are AMAZING. But the one that caught my eye was the small glass jar of Vegemite.

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Our Australian friends warned in their letter to be cautious of the odd, Aussie original that is apparently made from leftover brewers yeast extract. They even sent us this graph on the recommended usage.

Image courtesy Erin de Rooy
Image courtesy Erin de Rooy

So what does it taste like? Initial impression was overwhelming saltiness. Then a hint of some other savory flavors that I can't quite place. I also noticed a slight "vitaminy" aftertaste, but maybe that was just me. It's not particularly good. Here's a video of me and the kid trying it on toast this morning.

I can't imagine eating an entire "vegemite sandwich" as the song describes. One piece of toast was plenty for me. We're going to send our Australian friends a return package of American snacks. I would love to hear your suggestions for the snacks that really represent the United States, ideally ones that aren't ridiculously heavy to ship and that are only available in the US.

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