How the Marmite-y have fallen

21:10, May 25 2011

Personally, if I'm going to partake of something dark and yeasty, it's more likely to be served in a pint glass than spread on a piece of toast. Yes, there may have been some Vegemite Weetbix sandwiches in my distant past but these days I'm more of a peanut butter girl*. And the plain truth is that I've never been much of a fan of Marmite.

But then the Danish went and banned it. Whoa. Whoa now. Why the heck would you ban Marmite? I mean, it's not particularly nice but neither is Joan Rivers and no one's successfully banned her (yet). But apparently the deal in Denmark is that foods are not allowed to have added vitamins, which Marmite does in spades (niamin, thiacin, riboflavin, folic acid and the slightly less romantic sounding B12). Which rather begs the question, are you allowed to buy vitamins in Denmark?

Well, if Marmite is banned, surely cigarettes are too? Actually, no. You have to be 18 to buy them, but smokes are legal in Denmark. Oh, but that's right, nicotine and arsenic aren't vitamins, are they?

So you can sort of see why Danish Marmite-lovers might have good reason to question the wisdom of this latest legislative move but they should have seen it coming. Ovaltine and Horlicks were both earlier victims of the Danish aversion to added vitamins. Yes, Horlicks, that milky drink that made you sleepy when you were a kid (all snugly in your jim-jams before bed). That stuff. Yeah, toxic as, apparently. Gives you the plague...and shingles...and, um, conjunctivitis. We're all lucky we didn't die in our sleeps, garrotted by rampaging added vitamins with nothing better to do.

Though I'm sympathetic to the plight of Marmite fans residing in Denmark, I still can't help being amused by the somewhat plaintive question of British advertising exec Colin Smith, who asked: "What am I supposed to put on my toast now?"

Boot polish? Tar? Axle grease? All legal in Denmark, all more or less as enjoyable to eat as Marmite. Knock yourself out, Colin. At least there's no risk of added vitamins in a tin of Kiwi polish. Sure, you might have to get your stomach pumped before morning tea time but think how shiny your tonsils will be.

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But maybe that's the solution. I suggest that the Danish authorities allow a special dispensation for those people, like me, who are committed to a diet completely devoid of vitamins, to each vitamin-fortified food. For if I live on bottles of Coke Zero and potato chips then surely this might balance out the dangerously high levels of vitamins present in Marmite? Just putting it out there. Sometimes you need a lateral thinker like me to come up with the truly brilliant solutions to life's little problems.

So, thinking about your own dietary intake, are you at risk from vitamins? Is Marmite the oddest thing to be banned ever? (It's not, the things that Walmart alone has banned leaves Marmite in the dust, then there's all the great works of literature that have been considered too naughty, not to mention all the stuff you can't do in San Francisco.) So perhaps the Danish are not alone in this desire to forbid.  Lord knows, I'm still trying to get my "Make Joan Rivers Be Quiet" petition off the ground.

*Unbelievably there is actually a song called Peanut Butter Girl (thanks Google, how you continue to enrich my life). Even more astonishingly it's terrible. No really, it's pretty bad.

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