The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Miracle Whip as the new Marmite? It would take an act of God…

News has just reached the Displaced Nation — via a dog-eared copy of the Village Voice dated March 7 — about a new commercial for Miracle Whip that is in fact a rip-off of Marmite’s “love it or hate it” ad campaign. (Marmite of course being the savory spread made from waste yeast from the brewing industry, on which millions of Brits are weaned at an early age.)

Like Marmite before it, Miracle Whip is asking: do you love the not-quite-mayonnaise or hate it?

Kraft, the citizens of the Displaced Nation would like you to know: we are aware of your craftiness and we think it’s pretty cheesy of you to produce such a blatant imitation of Unilever’s brilliant Marmite campaign.

We also think it’s too bad that your marketing people didn’t consult with any Brits who are living in the United States, or they’d have set you straight on where Marmite belongs in the pantheon of branded foods: i.e., far above Miracle Whip.

Take, for instance, Kate Allison, a member of the Displaced Nation team. She chose to call her personal blog Marmite & Fluff. Marmite stands for Kate’s British heritage, while Fluff represents the past fifteen years she has spent living in the United States.

Notably, Kate decided to elevate Durkee-Mower’s Marshmallow Fluff — not Kraft’s Miracle Whip — to the level of her beloved Marmite because she believes the Fluffernutter sandwich has the same iconic status for American children as Marmite on toast does for their counterparts in Britain.

Another example is Lucy Sisman, a British resident of Manhattan who edits, a site for anyone who uses, abuses, loves and hates the English Language.

Lucy includes the Marmite jar in her recent post listing objects from her kitchen cupboard that belong to the leave-us-as-we-are-hall-of-fame for their genius packaging. (Traditionally, Marmite was supplied in an earthenware pot, on which its glass, and now plastic, jars are modeled.)

Hmmm….when was the last time any of us heard an American wax nostalgic about a Miracle Whip jar?

Of Kraft’s many food products, only the Oreo comes anywhere near to arousing the kinds of passions that Marmite does, if expat blogs are anything to go by. But one doesn’t sense that Oreo lovers sit up and take umbrage whenever Kraft introduces a new variety, such as mini Oreos, chocolate creme Oreos, golden Oreos… Not so with the Marmite minions. Kate, for instance, had this to say of some new-fangled Marmite combos:

I thought Marmite and Fluff sandwiches were bad. Now I’ve discovered you can buy Marmite chocolate. And champagne Marmite, anyone? Or Marmite with Marston’s Pedigree?

Besides Oreos, Americans abroad also say they miss Kraft’s macaroni-and-cheese mix — though a surprising number go on to say that their nostalgia dissipates with each successive bite.

Robyn Lee, a foodie who lived in Taiwan as a kid, described her first experience with Kraft’s mac-cheese in a post for Serious Eats last October:

The first time I tried the iconic American foodstuff was in middle school when I was living in Taipei, out of some desperate longing to eat something American. It was an exciting experience, until I ate it.

Compare this to what Kate says about her favorite yeast sludge: “Isn’t the point of Marmite that it overrides all other flavours?”

Love it, hate it, or find it insipid? Kraft should have included a third option when tweaking the Marmite ads for Miracle Whip.

Question: Does Marmite stand alone, or are there other branded foods that inspire intense nationalistic feelings, which in no way diminish upon becoming displaced? (On the contrary, absence can make the palate grow even fonder…)

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5 responses to “Miracle Whip as the new Marmite? It would take an act of God…

  1. Kate March 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I saw the Miracle Whip commercial the other day — didn’t get it at all. It’s really not something you can have a strong opinion about, since it doesn’t have a strong taste. Anchovies? Yes. Cilantro (coriander)? Yes. Stilton cheese? Yes. Marmite? Of course.

    And as for other iconic British foodstuffs that should be left alone, anyone who reads my blog knows how passionately I feel about Cadbury’s — now owned by Kraft, who have shut the Somerdale factory near Bristol and transferred production to Poland. I hope this is not part of a Baldrick cunning plan to change the recipe as well.

  2. nappyvalleygirl April 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Ha! I had to write about this ad for work and as a Brit I immediately spotted that it was a blatant rip-off of Marmite. Having never tastedi Miracle Whip, I cannot attest to its divisive nature but I can’t help thinking this must have been dreamed up by some desperate creative department hoping to revive an old-fashioned brand.

    Like the new blog, by the way – bookmarking it now.

  3. Judy Dunn April 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Okay, totally American perspective here. But I LOVE Miracle Whip! It is nothing like mayonnaise. It’s tart and lively and fun. In fact, when my husband comes home with the groceries (yes, he does the shopping—isn’t that cool?), and he has mistakenly grabbed the mayo, he is in big trouble : )

    I had to laugh at the video because, of course, James Carville and his wife would disagree on this issue. She’s a conservative Republican and he’s a liberal Dem.

    So that’s one big fat vote for Miracle Whip.

  4. Becci April 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I’m not British, but my partner is. I think HP Sauce stands up just as well as a food icon as Marmite.

    • Valerie Hamer October 11, 2011 at 9:49 am

      I agree. HP sauce is unbeatable. Marmite is food of the gods for me. My American friends rave about peanut butter cups. None of these things are freely available in South Korea, but rumours are always being circulated as to possible sources!

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