Finally, science may have an answer to why people love or hate Marmite
When it comes to Marmite, there’s no middle ground – either you love it or hate it – and for almost a century, everyone from foodies to scientists have been puzzled as to why that is.
In a study by Marmite and DNAFit, one of the UK’s leading genetic testing centres, researchers believe they may have an answer – and our genes may have something to do with it.
As part of their The Marmite Gene Project, scientists at DNAFit conducted a year-long clinical trial with 260 participants, comprising of an equal split of men and women, to determine whether there is a biological link to our Marmite taste preference.
After tasting a 2g serving of Marmite, which involved leaving it on the tongue for 10 seconds, the test subjects were asked to indicate their taste preference in a questionnaire.
Participants’ DNA samples were then sent to DNAFit’s labs for genetic analysis to identify SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms).
SNPs or ‘snips’ are single DNA building blocks that have an impact on specific traits.
After spending more than 8,700 hours analysing and interpreting the results, the researchers were able to identify 15 SNPs linked to Marmite taste preference.
Thomas Roos, leader of The Marmite Gene Project at DNAFit, said: “Our research indicates that Marmite taste preference can in large parts be attributed to our genetic blueprint, which shows that each of us is born with a tendency to be either a “lover” or a “hater”.
“Our data reveals that there are multiple genes that contribute towards this, and it is a really exciting discovery.
He added: “Our results revealed two important things. First, that some individuals are genetically predisposed to love Marmite while others are genetically predisposed to hate it. And secondly, lovers and haters can exist in the same family.”
Philippa Atkinson, Marmite’s brand manager, said: “For over a century we, too, have been questioning why the nation are so clearly divided between love or hate for Marmite. Finally, we have the answers.”
Don’t worry if your genes say you hate Marmite because Roos says, like most things in life, Marmite can also become an acquired taste.
“Like anything in genetics, taste preference is dictated by both nature and nurture,” he said.
“Our environment can impact our taste preference as much as the genes we are born with.”
But researchers admit more studies need to be done to support their findings.
In a scientific white paper report, the researchers wrote: “It is important to independently replicate the findings of this study in order to validate these genetic markers and get a more accurate idea of their true effect on Marmite taste preference.”
Meanwhile, if you are wondering what your genes say about this toast spread, DNA kits are available to buy on Marmite’s website.