The Vegemite Mess

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A bottle of Vegemite.

I always used to laugh at single-issue voters. Your candidate supports clearcutting in Yosemite, the death penalty for double parking and taking funds from public schools to subsidize gas, but as long he sees eye to eye with you on the First Amendment or public urination, you're his all the way. But that was before I became eligible to vote. Now I realize that if one issue is crucial enough, it trumps all others. Some things simply must be addressed immediately. And I have found that issue. I will cast my inaugural vote this election for the person who promises to clear up the Vegemite mess.

The Vegemite mess, for those who have been living on a desert island — or at least one that's not Australia — for the last week is the complete lack of clarity over whether Vegemite has been banned. There were some scuffles at the Canadian border on the weekend and it was intimated that Vegemite was no longer to be imported because it contains folate. Then the Food and Drug Administration said Vegemite was not banned, because the folate in it was the not-banned sort of folate or something. But Kraft, the maker of Vegemite, still seems to think it's banned.

Of course, Vegemite — made from the extract of brewers' yeast extract, a by-product of beer manufacturing, and some secret ingredient like tar or the gunk that accumulates on outdoor grills — is the nectar of the gods to Australians. So for you native Americans, I realize this may all sound like a tempest on toast. Vegemite, you say, is just a food. Which is like saying Oprah is just a woman who has a couch. This is the food that nurtured the likes of the Crocodile Hunter and the Wiggles. It's the spicy paste that put fire in the belly of Russell Crowe and Lleyton Hewitt. It put the roses in the cheeks of Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts.

At first I thought the talk of a ban must be coming from local children's entertainers or tennis players. But let me say to whoever started circulating these rumors, Vegemite is not a political football. It's is a bread-and-butter issue. And there are many reasons America should not swallow such a ban, and indeed should encourage the spread of the Vegemony.

Vegemite teaches restraint. Unlike peanut butter or Nutella, it actually tastes worse the more you put on your toast. I have eaten unrefrigerated Vegemite almost half a decade beyond its use by date with no noticeable decline in taste or texture. This stuff would survive a nuclear holocaust. It's almost impossible to consume Vegemite without a drink close by, and thus it has a symbiotic relationship with the breakfast beverage industry. It has no fat. It's made by an American-owned company. Also I'm pretty sure you could polish silver with it.

We Australians are on the whole an easygoing bunch. We like our meat grilled, our beer cold, and our surf big, just like Americans do. But you've seen us when we're grumpy right? Russell Crowe and the phone? Mel Gibson and the DUI? Rupert Murdoch and the left? Eric Bana and that big stomping thing he did in The Hulk? Trust me, you won't like us when we're angry. A little advice: Let the Vegemite stay. We promise not to share.