Monday 19 March 2012

Steve-I-Am that Steve-I-Am

File this one under "The Culture that is New Zealand".

For the last eight years, Stephen Hickson, my colleague at Canterbury and all-round decent Kiwi, has played Steve-I-Am to this grouchy non-Marmite-eating Canadian.

And for years I told him I would not could not on some toast, I would not could not with some roast, and so on and so forth.

But he finally brought me around with "Would you, could you, with some cheese?" I've been an occasional Marmite eater for the last few months; Susan remains less than a fan.

And now we're running out of Marmite. Twitter is full of #marmitesongs and the #marmitecrisis.

Remember the old Cheers episode where Fraser hypnotised Woody into liking Vegge-Boy and then Vegge-Boy was cancelled? Yeah, that. I blame you, Steve-I-Am. I wouldn't have cared if you hadn't brainwashed me.

I endorsed price gouging as best way of allocating scarce remaining supplies (of course I would; predictable). Keith Ng worried about social cohesion in the face of the crisis. I suggested running a randomized control trial where we allow Marmite price gouging in some cities but rationing in others; Ng invoked Duhem:

And iPredict is running a contract on whether Marmite will be rationed at any of the major supermarkets. The NBR's watching the contract, perhaps fearing the economic costs of the social unrest that might come with a full Marmite apocalypse.

Stephen said at lunch that he now plans on stocking up on his way home. It's folks like him,* who profess a public spirit but will hoard in the face of crisis, that make the case for price gouging all the stronger.

Oh, and at least one person on Twitter has issued threats against those who would suggest Vegemite as acceptable substitute.

* Stephen's really a good guy; if he weren't, I'd not here tease him. I only bear him a pretend-grudge because I enjoy faux-outrage.


  1. You see for me Vegemite is not only a possible substitute for Marmite, but is in fact the preferred default yeast spread option. Only if I were placed under substantial duress would I sully my taste-buds with the oddly sweet and funky taste of Marmite.

  2. "For the last eight years, Stephen Hickson, my colleague at Canterbury and all-round decent Kiwi,"

    Hickson is English!!!

  3. @ Lats: You don't hold an Australian passport do you. That's treason you're talking here.

    Eric: I always make sure I have a marmite in my garage earthquake/bird-flu stocks. Since we both support gouging, I am sure we can come to some agreement on price.

    1. We have a big tub in the cupboard, which by normal consumption ought last a couple of months. We'll chat when it's empty.

  4. Eric's willingness-to-pay might be the binding constraint here, but we can get an approximate* upper limit on the maximum gouge price by estimating the cost of having this very time-consuming recipe made

    * Approximate due to any difference in quality as well as that this recipe appears to be for English marmite.

    1. Oh, I'm not willing to put that much work into it. I like Marmite, but not enough to pay tons or to exert strenuous effort.

  5. No, I'm a kiwi born and bred, but was brought up on Vegemite from a very early age. I've tried Marmite, but prefer the taste of the Aussie version. I am also not a huge fan of tomato sauce, so culinarily speaking I am a bit of a failure as a kiwi :) I do like L&P though, and hokey pokey ice cream.