In the last years of the 19th century, Justus von Liebig, inventor of Marmite, looked into an empty beer barrel, saw the yeast gunk there, and thought, “Yeah, Imma gonna eat that.” More than a century later, Unilever has released a new spread that combines Justus’ salty yeast extract with another culinary innovation of the late 19th century: peanut butter.
I have to ask, who is this product for? Peanut butter isn’t very popular in the Marmite-loving United Kingdom, and the peanut butter-loving people of the United States hate Marmite, if they’ve had it all.
Me. It’s for me. As someone who loves both ingredients in this spread, it’s possible I’m a target demographic of one, so I knew I had to try it.
Upon opening the jar, I give the contents a stir. This is an all-natural peanut butter with no sugar or added oils, so it’s separated. Then, I take my mixing spoon and give it a lick (because I’m efficient). The first flavor is of the familiar roasted peanut butter, quickly followed by salty yeast extract. It can be difficult to describe the taste of yeast extract spreads like Marmite if someone hasn’t had them before. It’s salty, and meaty, and a bit beery, and very, very intense.
The peanut butter and Marmite complement each other very well, but there’s no sweetness whatsoever. The Marmite even covers the peanuts’ natural sweetness, so the savory character can be a bit overwhelming. I usually prefer peanut butter without added sugar, but I have to wonder if this spread would have benefited if it had a salty-sweet thing going for it.
Part of the reason Marmite and peanut butter go so well together is that they’re versatile ingredients with savory and sweet applications, and have a fandom willing to explore the culinary limits. I’ve spent countless hours exploring Instagram looking for weird peanut butter sandwich combinations. Think peanut butter and pickle is weird? Try the next-level peanut butter with sauerkraut and onion, or peanut butter on eggs. On the other hand, a thin swipe of Marmite is a great addition to marmalade or cheese on toast.
To test the versatility of this combined spread, I knew I had to do more than lick a spoon. I prepared a piece of toast with the classic peanut butter and strawberry jelly combination, as well as peanut butter and sharp Wisconsin cheddar. The Marmite PB&J proves I was right that this spread benefits from some sweetness. It tastes like standard PB&J with an umami flavor boost. The peanut butter and cheddar is a bit more challenging. It’s already a combo that leans in hard to unctuousness, and the Marmite does nothing to cut the fatty flavor. I liked it, but I also like peanut butter on sloppy joes, so your mileage may vary.
Look, I know I’m weird. I’m willing to pay $19.99 to have a small jar imported. Is it worth that price? No. Is it worth the much more reasonable £2.40 at Tesco? Yeah. Or, you could just buy some peanut butter and Marmite and mix them yourself.
Purchased Price: $19.99
Purchased at: Amazon.com
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15g) 88 calories, 6.8 grams of fat, 0.9 grams of saturated fat, 280 milligrams of sodium, 1.8 grams of carbohydrates, 1.2 grams of fiber, 0.9 grams of sugar, and 4.2 gram of protein.