Vegemite gets makeover
The iconic vegetable spread Vegemite is getting a makeover. Kraft Foods announced on Sunday that a creamier variation of the product would be on store shelves on July 5 alongside the original, which has been a staple in pantries almost since its invention in 1922. Vegemite — a salty, slightly bitter spread made from brewer’s yeast — is such a part of the lifestyle that it even made mention as a sandwich in the 1980s hit song Down Under by Men at Work. People spread it on toast or crackers, top it with tomatoes or avocados, use it to flavor soups and gravies, pack a jar when traveling and write home for more when living abroad. Kraft decided to make a new product after conducting a census of 300,000 local citizens and New Zealanders to find out how they use Vegemite. The end result is a Vegemite mixed with cream cheese for a smoother, more spreadable consistency. Kraft said the new product was given to 600 homes for testing and came back with overwhelmingly positive results. Kraft touts the still-unnamed product as “the new Vegemite experience.” Just like the original, which was named in a national poll in 1923, the new version will also be named by a public contest. Jars that go on sale next month will carry the label: “Name Me.” The contest is open-ended as Kraft selects the best name for the Vegemite partner.
Hundreds riot over tax
Several hundred furniture makers blocked traffic and overturned police cars yesterday in an eastern city to protest a new tax they said imposes a heavy burden on their businesses. The protest was the latest in recent months by workers and companies worried about government moves to restructure industries or job losses because of the economic crisis. Photographs and video footage posted on Web sites showed crowds in Nankang, Jiangxi Province, filling a street junction, surrounding overturned police cars and spilling over onto a highway and halting traffic.
Dead voters to be logged
A lawmaker frustrated by rampant electoral fraud has proposed legislation to get the names of the dead off voter rolls. Representative Maria Victoria Sy-Alvarado said yesterday she wanted to make it mandatory for doctors and family members to report deaths to the civil registrar, which has to give the information to the Election Commission so it can update its voter lists. The bill must go through a long legislative process before becoming law. If enacted, government officials or employees would face up to 10 years imprisonment and be disqualified from public office.
Croc narrowly misses boy
Two schoolboys playing on a riverbank on the west coast had a lucky escape when a 3.5m crocodile picked on their 10-year-old black Labrador instead of them, news reports said yesterday. “It was a heavy dog, at least 40kg, and would be heavier than at least one of the children,” Police Sergeant Mike Wells said of the Sunday attack on the May River near Derby in Western Australia. “The crocodile came out of the water and grabbed the Labrador effortlessly and took it away,” Wells told the West Australian newspaper. The parents were locals and were nearby having a picnic when the crocodile lunged at the dog. “Unfortunately everyone knows there are crocs there but people tend to get complacent,” Wells said.