My Marmite adventure - on TV and in the newspaper!

This post isn't purely about nail art, like most of my posts. It's about nail art, being on TV, being on the front page of the newspaper, Christchurch, and most of all - Marmite! The last couple of weeks have been amazing, and yesterday was one of the best days of my life. First off - this is proper New Zealand Marmite we're talking about, not the UK stuff. Or Vegemite! They are very different spreads, the main difference being that Marmite is delicious and Vegemite tastes like vomit (I wrote that just for you, Campbell!).

This post is also meant for my family and friends, as it's too much to cram into a Facebook status! As I don't see everyone in person, so figured this was the best way to do it.

So I'll start from the beginning. In February 2011, Christchurch, a beautiful big city in New Zealand (and the Marmite capital) was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed 185 people. It was a huge, tragic shock to the entire nation, and I still remember staring at the little 14" TV at my dad's work completely dumbstruck. You can read more about it in my original post here. A few months later the Marmite factory had to be closed as it wasn't safe, and for the last year New Zealand has been in short supply of it's beloved Marmite. People were auctioning off their last jars on Trade me, going for up to 5 times the retail price! 

In December last year I was doing a nail art challenge that some friends and I made up, and one of the days was "inspired by your country." There were plenty of different options, but I decided to paint my nails as little jars of Marmite, as that was a kiwiana thing that I loved and missed!

And thus, my Marmite nails were born...

I didn't think much of it at the time - I was pretty happy with them (although I couldn't do both hands at this stage) and continued with the challenge. I've done some more NZ-themed nail art too, Pohutukawas, the New Zealand flagPukekos and the Sky Tower

A couple of weeks ago I saw on Marmite NZ's Facebook page that they were teaming up with Campbell Live (a current events show) to give five winners a tour of the newly built Marmite factory! Yes, Marmite is coming back on the 20th March :). I saw it and thought to myself, I've got a chance at this... 
I emailed them and after much internal debate, I decided to show you the email...


My name's Jessie and I'm Marmite's biggest fan.
There's simply no doubt about it. I was pretty much raised on the stuff - margarine and Marmite on toast was my staple breakfast food for about 15 years. Oh, and lunch and occasionally dinner too. Good
balanced diet, huh?

If someone tells me they don't like Marmite, it's equivalent to treason in my eyes. I have to force myself to move past this awful barrier and not judge their entire character on their terrible taste.

I moved out of home four years ago and realised that life without parents paying for your food isn't cheap, but Marmite was always on the list... until March 2012. No longer could I rely on my precious Marmite to get me through my morning routine... I ran out within two weeks. I bought Vegemite, but it just wasn't the same; the emotional connection just wasn't there (plus it's gross). Over the next few months I experimented with other spreads, but I ended up often having cereal as every un-Marmited piece of toast reminded me of my loss. It truly was a dark period in my life. 

In November (ish) I found that my ex flatmate had a jar of Marmite left in his cupboard! I managed to score a tablespoon or so of it and took it home in a little jar - it didn't last long though. Then in December I was up in Auckland and my cousin had bought some online - the few days I spent at their house were pure heaven - especially as they had delicious Vogel's bread as well :D. Alas, I had to return home eventually, to my Marmite-less (and therefore soul-less) house. 

But wait, there's more; three weeks ago I moved in again with the previously mentioned ex-flatmate, and had access to his remaining spread of deliciousness! These last few weeks have been full of wonder. Unfortunately, my supply is now running low and will not last until the 20th March - help me, Campbell Live and Sanitarium, please!!

If none of the above has convinced you that I am indeed the biggest Marmite fan EVER please see the attached photo. I've missed Marmite SO MUCH I even painted it on my nails. You can see my blog post about it here to clarify that my feelings for Marmite are indeed this strong.

Thanks for reading my little story!

P.S. I swear I'm not crazy. Promise. I just really really want more Marmite and to visit the magical Marmite factory! Screw golden tickets!

Yeah, I'm a little bit dramatic at times. But a dramatic WINNER! In fact I was told I was in the top two :). On Monday the 25th February I watched Campbell Live, and suddenly saw my nails on the screen! I screamed and shouted and acted like a five-year-old on a sugar rush... then realised I didn't even hear what they said. I had to wait an hour for Freeview to play it back, and this time had a video recorder in hand. You can see my post about this here, and the video here.

The past week and a bit I was impatiently waiting for the 6th of March to arrive, when I would fly down to Christchurch and go on my tour. In the meantime, my friend (who's an intern at the local paper) interviewed me and I had a few photos taken of me and the nails, which was very exciting! The paper was due to be published the same day as the trip - so Wednesday was a big day for me!

Finally it arrived. I woke up 5am after a rather sleepless night of dreaming I was going to miss the plane. I spent 10 minutes freaking out that I couldn't find my concealer anywhere - STILL haven't found it - but eventually decided there were more important things in life (like Marmite). I had Vegemite on toast for breakfast for the last time ever, packed my camera and was on my way. It took an hour and twenty minutes to fly to Christchurch - no turbulence  which is always nice! Once off the plane I met up with Kelsey, the lady who was looking after us for the day and four of the other winners. I should mention how good she was at her job. Completely amazing. Professional, friendly, knowledgeable, polite - Sanitarium must be happy they hired her! There was only meant to be five winners initially, but another die-hard Marmite fan was added to the trip last-minute, making it six. Now I think about it, it may be because one of the original winners was several hours late due to plane troubles, and wasn't able to be in the videos. I could be wrong though, so don't quote me on that.

We spent the next few hours wandering around the "magical marmite factory," and I totally understand why it took so long to get it going again! They not only had to rebuild the whole thing, but (from what I understand) they had to build around half of the equipment! It was hard to hear at times so I didn't always get the full story, but I came out quite impressed that they managed to get it the whole process going again at all. 

Another winner's Marmite tattoo!
One room was packed with huge drums full of marmite! It still needed the "secret ingredients" added to it, but it was amazing seeing it like that! Although to be honest the top of it looked a lot like a modern art piece mixed with cow poop. In another room there was the processing part of it, all mechanised with two or three workers putting the empty, plain jars on the conveyor belt and taking the full, labelled jars off. So much Marmite! It was paradise! Another big part of the day was that Wayne "Buck" Shelford was there. He used to be the captain of the All Blacks, New Zealand's rugby team (Rugby is our national sport). I'm terrible though. They were all like "Surprise! Guess who's here!" and I'm standing there thinking "I dunno, can you tell me?" I don't follow Rugby, at all. If it was Graham Henry I'd easily know who he was, but except for a glimpse of recognition from seeing him on TV, it was all new to me. I ended up googling him and found he has his own Wikipedia page. I'm such a bad Kiwi... :o. He was nice though! All of the people from Campbell Live and Sanitarium were so cool; friendly, genuine people. It was really cool to meet people who are usually just a face on TV, and realise that they are just like you (well, maybe a bit more charismatic and dressed better!).

At about 11am we finished the tour and had Marmite on toast for morning tea, yum! It was funny watching how different people ate it, one person had a huge amount, spread it like really thick nutella! Marmite isn't something you use a lot of, normally. Each to their own!


We were also given a bag filled with goodies - two jars of Marmite (one signed by Buck that I'll keep as a memento), a T-Shirt that says "I survived Marmageddon," two boxes of Sanitarium cereal and a picture of how the Marmite factory used to look. That got a bit crumpled on the way home, I'm afraid.

Throughout the tour the camera people from Campbell Live would pull us to the side, ask us some questions about why we had been chosen as a winner and then film us being "eliminated." They were going for  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style; remember how the kids get picked off one by one until only Charlie remained? However, in this case the reporters hijacked it, 'hoping' to inherit the Marmite factory and locked the rest of us in various rooms. Oh man, it was so embarrassing, but awesome! I had to pretend they had locked me in this garage-like room, and then try to get out while looking very upset. They had to reshoot me doing it because I kept laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. It did make me want to be a journalist again, though! I've wanted to on and off for about 10 million years, and after yesterday I thought "YES. That's for me." But I also want to do web and graphic design, and nail art, and script writing, and all this other amazing stuff. 

After the Marmite tour, we left the factory and went to the Ellerslie flower show. It used to be in Auckland, but it wasn't doing very well there so was moved to Christchurch, which is known as the garden city. It seemed pretty busy, so I assume it's doing okay now. We were treated to a three course, $100 lunch while celebrity chefs did some presentation thing at the front. It's not really my thing, but they seemed to know what they were doing and the food was delicious! 

Our yummy lunch!
Venison for the main course.
I never got my goodie bag though, which was a little disappointing! I didn't go back and ask for it either, so kind of my fault too. After the delicious lunch I wandered around the flower show with one of the other winners, Michelle, for an hour or so and ended up buying some more cuticle oil! I was very happy I found it, as it was cheap (only $7) and had jojoba oil in it, which is the best oil for your nails. In case you're wondering, it's called Nana May's magic cuticle oil, and their website is here.

On the way back from the flower show, I saw on Facebook that the article about me and my nails had made it to the front page! I was SO excited, and still am!! I don't think I'll suddenly get heaps of customers as there were no contact details given, but at least I'll be known as the nail girl in my town!

Best. Day. Ever.
After that we had a tour around Christchurch, seeing all the damaged buildings and all of the car parks that used to be built up areas. It was really sad, especially seeing the cathedral. It's a big, beautiful building that was just destroyed. I felt quite emotional and I've only been to Christchurch a couple of times before! There were still flowers and signs with hopeful messages on them around the place. One of the more touching things I saw were 185 chairs that were painted white, all placed on a corner. It's a artistic memorial to all those that lost their lives that day, and just like life, the memorial is only temporary. You can see some pictures of them here and here.

The damage was so much more widespread than it looked on TV.
Wouldn't want to walk out those doors...

Random guy eating his lunch on top of a two story building.
This was so lovely. I love you Christchurch!

The Cathedral

After that it was back to the airport and home again. I got quite a bad headache while at the airport, which was good timing really - much better than getting it in the middle of the trip. I was glad to get home though and take a couple of panadol, which sorted it out pretty quickly.

The piece that ran on Campbell Live that evening can be found here. I only just saw it myself, a day late! They made quite a cool little story out of it in the end! If you're not in New Zealand you might not be able to see it, I'm not sure what the settings are.

There are heaps more photos that were taken professionally that I plan to add on here when I get them. Hopefully I'll get a file of the video so I can put it on YouTube and then everyone can see it! I covered part of my wardrobe with stuff from the trip - I'm such a fan girl. 

So that's my busy, busy Wednesday! Back to looking for a job and painting my nails with non-marmite designs!

Thank you Sanitarium and Campbell Live!


  1. That is so awesome! Congratulations!

  2. Saw this! And I'm just like, 'Yay! Nail art!' lol. Kind of irrelevant question: Where do you get your nail polishes? You're the first NZ nail artist I've seen that I really trust. Oh and best brands?

    1. Haha awesome :P. I recenting made a FAQ page with this question on it, you can see it here
      Best mainstream brands are OPI, Revlon and China Glaze, in my opinion :).

  3. BEST POST EVER!! That's so exciting! I miss Marmite so much! They only have the crappy yucky British stuff here... :(

    1. Eeeee I know right? Ew yuck poor you. When you come back you'll be able to have heaps. I've gone through half a 250g jar in a week!

  4. Awesome hun! Congrats, so jealous of your marmite!!!! xxxx

  5. Congrats! Marmite is too salty for me. But what do I know? I live in cali! The quake got a lot of coverage here, remember it well. Sorry to see it's still not into recovery further. We have some towns in Cali hit hard that take 10+ yrs to get right again. I still cannot drive some places in state and not see how it was after the huge quake in the Bay Area that hit when I was walking into the 1st game of the World Series (baseball finals here in the US). Took us 15 hrs to try to get back to where we were staying with friends and had our car and 'stuff.' It's hard to look at he photos of the charming town Christchurch is. We have a lot of buildings that had to go because they could not come up to snuff on new earthquake prevention laws - the old brick ones in my town are particularly quaint but totally not suitable to earthquake land like we are. lived through many and never get used to 'em.

    1. Oooh, I just love the stuff, and wow, I didn't know it was reported so widely! Earthquakes are horrible, I'm always very nervous when I feel one, especially after the Christchurch one. Humans are so used to being in control and when nature takes over it makes us realise how little power we really have :/. Sorry to hear about the earthquakes in your corner of the world!

  6. Great post! Congratulations, you really deserve it! :-) And, yes, great manicure! :-)


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