Brand collaborations are an intriguing prospect. You never know which way it will go. Justin Bieber and Calvin Klein, Billie Eilish and Gucci, David Beckham and Haig Club whisky – all very successful. Robert de Niro and Warburtons bread (yes, that actually happened), not so hot. So we were dubious when we started to see Marmite going the same way.
Marmite. The old reliable. The salty spread that divides an audience in an instant. Some people dollop it on toast like it’s going out of fashion, stalwart enthusiasts stir the savoury treacle-like substance into mugs of hot water for a soothing beverage, and the rest of us can’t stand the stuff. For those that fall into the first two categories, this article’s for you. Marmite has released some pretty unique collaborations in recent months, from peanut butter to hot cross buns, and to get the bottom of whether we should give them a go ourselves, we asked James and Dave, some friends of The Handbook with a real penchant for Marmite, to trial and test the products. Disclaimer: this article has not been sponsored by Marmite, these two Londoners are just really into the taste of yeast extract.
1. Marmite cheese slices
These were a firm favourite from our taste-testers. Marmite has been combined with two types of cheddar cheese for a cracker experience with a bite. Marks & Spencer, who are really leading the way with the Marmite mergers, recommend adding a slice to a burger, or better yet, adding it to a honey roast ham sandwich to give your lunch a boost. “Marmite has always gone well with cheese, so this combination was always going to be the forerunner,” says James of East Dulwich. “It’s my favourite.” That’s a review to rival even the best AA Gill write-ups. This is the kind of expertise you’ve come to know and love from The Handbook.
Available: In store at M&S
2. Marmite cream cheese
It’s a similar story for this entry at number 2. The indulgent texture of the full fat soft cream cheese and the bitterness of the Marmite work well together; it’s just the right kind of intensity. “They’ve got the Marmite and cheese blend just right,” says James. “This is delicious and easy to spread.” For those not yet convinced, try this on a lightly toasted bagel and it’ll be your gateway into a real Marmite addiction.
Available: M&S / Ocado
3. Marmite peanut butter
Dave of East Dulwich (yes, our taste-testers all live together) was pretty impressed with this entry. “An open letter to Marmite Peanut Butter: Thank you for your service to taste and turning a humble nutty spread into an iconic national treasure.” Be like Dave and mix up your morning toast routine with this new-fangled spread. This is the perfect solution for all you vegetarians needing to top up on your vitamin B12. You can also experiment adding a dollop of this to a banana smoothie. Or not. That sounds pretty revolting to be honest, but that’s what they recommend on the Ocado website.
4. Marmite crisps
Walkers crisps have been around since 1948 and Marmite since 1902 – that level of expertise has got to produce something worth a try. “Marmite crisps have been a long time coming,” agrees James, who was so pleased with the result that he recommended that they “should be immediately served in pubs when they open”. They’re also on a special offer of 3 for £3.50 (which probably isn’t a great sign).
5. Marmite butter
Sometimes inventions can be groundbreaking. Marmite was obviously one of them, and it wasn’t even discovered on purpose. In the late 19th century, German scientist Justus von Liebig discovered that brewer’s yeast could be concentrated, bottled and eaten. And voila! Marmite was born. But the scientists have not stopped there. This time they’ve mixed Marmite with butter. “It saves precious time by getting the spreading done in one go,” says James. “There’s not enough Marmite flavour for me but it’s still good.” Perhaps a good entry point for those still on the fence about the whole Marmite thing.
Available: M&S / Ocado
6. Marmite popcorn
It’s official. Marmite has broken into the luxury market. Joe and Seph’s has partnered with Marmite to turn yeast extract into a bougie snack. This Marmite popcorn has been hand-crafted by master pastry chefs, using only the finest all-natural ingredients. Caramel is mixed with Marmite for a new take on the more common sweet and salty flavour. While it’s an admirable attempt, everyone knows popcorn should only ever be eaten freshly popped and not slathered in breakfast spreads.
Available: Joe & Seph’s
7. Marmite rice cakes
Marmite rice cakes have been around for some time now, but we asked taste-tester Dave for his opinion anyway. “Rice cakes changed the face of snacks. An astounding feat of rice engineering that produced a simple and low-calorie alternative to cake,” he expertly comments. “Who knew that a small sprinkling of yeast extract would completely reinvent what it means to be a rice cake?” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
8. Marmite flatbreads
Neither ourselves nor the taste-testers have managed to try these crispy Marmite flatbreads, but they look pretty fantastic. These golden crackers are lovingly slathered in Marmite and topped with cheddar for the perfect addition to a fancy cheeseboard. Having said that, we strongly advise against pairing these with the Marmite cheese – sometimes there really can be such a thing as too much Marmite.
9. Marmite houmous
“I hated the idea of marmite houmous,” says Dave, “but loved the taste. And that’s exactly what they promise.” Marmite never fails to fulfil a promise. Marmite stood by troops in World War I with Marmite in ration packs, and now it stands by us in the Covid pandemic. And according to Dave the taste is still fantastic. Chop up some carrots and celery sticks and you have the ultimate dinner party canapé… for when we can actually have a dinner party.
10. Marmite biscuits
You’ll be pleased to know that these Marmite biscuits are the savoury sort. And they are cut out in the shape of a Marmite jar, because the people at Marmite are fun like that. They’re super crunchy and have the usual Marmite tang… apparently. These are another product that our team didn’t quite get round to testing but the reviews online range from “great flavour – perfect with mature cheddar” to “I think they forgot to put Marmite in”. So it’s up to you to take the risk with your petty cash.
11. Marmite cashews
Did you know that Marmite is the French word for an earthenware pot? That’s because Marmite used to be sold in little clay pots before the glass jars came about. This cashew snack harks back to this golden era of deeper, rustic flavours. Vegan and vegetarian-friendly, this delicious treat is perfect for anyone who’s nuts about yeast (sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun…).
12. Marmite hot cross buns
Hot cross buns are normally sweet, raisin-filled delights. This latest release, however, turned out to be fairly lack-lustre despite the seemingly complementary combination of cheddar, red Leicester and Marmite. “I was not cross with that Marmite bun,” says Dave, but was he happy with it? This entry has hit the bottom at number 12, and James was less than impressed: “Not sure what they were playing at here. The savoury hot cross bun? Doesn’t work, and too crumbly.” The baked goods have sparked nationwide headlines, with the Birmingham Mail reporting that customers have labelled this Easter treat “the work of the devil”. However, the recent launch of Marmite cheesy crumpets might appease any outraged fans.
Available: M&S / Ocado
13. Marmite and cheese sausages
We’re impressed you’ve scrolled this far. And we didn’t want to disappoint with our entry at number 13 – a cheese and marmite pork sausage. The Marmite umami flavour has switched these Cumberland classics up a notch with some describing it as “unusual”. You can’t call yourself a Marmite fan unless you give it a try. Why not serve it with some Marmite mash… there’s literally no end in sight for these Marmite collabs.
Price: From £3.10