Vegemite and other polarizing foods that people either love or hate
Vegemite—the Australian spread with a taste that’s, well, controversial—is once again having a moment. On Sunday, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion revealed that many Aussies have been purchasing Vegemite, a popular yeast spread, in order to make cheap alcohol, causing a rise in the country’s alcohol abuse rates. Created as a wartime substitute for Marmite, Vegemite has become a prime example of how much tastebuds can vary. While some despise the food (Scullion himself called it a “precursor to misery”) for its bitterness, others have grown fond of its malty taste. Put simply: you either love Vegemite or you hate it. There’s no middle ground with that spread.
And it’s not the only polarizing food out there. In fact, there are a handful of other foods that divide a population. Blame nature or nurture, there are just some foods we all feel REALLY STRONGLY about, for better or worse. Here are a few:
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine provided a peculiar reason for wanting to date a guy that wasn’t quite the right fit for her. “Tyler, you don’t understand. He likes black jelly beans. You know, the kind that tastes like licorice. Do you know how hard it is to find another person that likes black jellies??” This is not an isolated problem. Licorice is one of those foods that can tear families and friendships apart. Does it taste like tar or heavenly goodness? Anguish or joy? Is the dress blue or gold? I don’t know, OK??
Cilantro is an herb made from the leaves of Coriander, a name that seems more fitting for some new character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer than an edible dish. This little green plant has divided the culinary community, with some arguing that it adds a pleasant citrus-y taste and some contesting that it brings some soapy undertones. Cilantro is so polarizing that it has even inspired some popular websites including, and I’m not kidding, IHateCilantro.com, which encourages visitors to “browse the site in support of your anti-cilantro confederates.”
Made using gelatin or marshmallow, fondant is a type of icing commonly used to impress friends and acquaintances at celebratory events. By which I mean, the sweet, chewy substance allows bakers to create edible, 3D molds that can turn any regular cake into an explosion of creative decorations and mini-models. If you like to chew your cake and have it too, fondant might be for you.
True story: I once spit out a whoopie pie because it was sprinkled with coconut shavings on the inside, unbenownst to me. There’s something about that dry, subtly sweet flavor that makes my stomach want to vacate my body and never return. As the sole member of a friend group that praises coconut products like some new Beyoncé song, I relish the moments where I’m able to find other coconut haters who would rather sleep on a bed of coconuts than put it anywhere close to their mouth.
Tofu gets a lot of hate, not so much for its taste (or lackthereof) but more so for its squishy form. Whether or not you become a tofu lover depends on your sensitivity to food textures. If you’re the kind of person who can slurp Jello without shivering a little bit in discomfort, you’d probably like tofu’s spongy softness. If you’d rather not chomp into soggy blocks of soy and eat food that doesn’t jiggle when you poke it, you might want to avoid the tofu bar and find another way to get your protein.
There are two kinds of people in this world: people who ask for “no pickle on the side” at restaurants and people who volunteer to eat said person’s pickle instead. In this situation, the pickle hater will instruct the waiter to include the pickle on a separate plate and subsequently threaten the pickle lover with bodily harm if their pickle request somehow results in pickle juice on the former’s plate by accident. The whole scenario is quite a pickle, if you ask me.
My friends and I had a running joke at school: how will the dining staff slip banana into our diets today? Sometimes, it came in the form of cupcakes disguised as vanilla, only to have a banana-aftertaste. Sometimes it showed up in our dinners as a “roasted banana” side dish. The campus’s inability to come to a consensus on these sneaky tactics (the “bananas are delicious” crowd supported the staff’s efforts) and the rise of the Minions in popular culture have only exacerbated this problem.
8) Goat cheese
Goat cheese stinks. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact, and a very important one when it comes to deciding on a good finger-food plate. While some goat cheeses can be delicious, many people can be easily turned off by its putrid odor and immediately start questioning the sanity of anyone who professes their love for it.
(Featured image via iStock.)