Here in America, we typically start off our mornings with a hot cup of coffee. In fact, 65% of all coffee is consumed during breakfast hours. We might accompany our java with a scrambled egg, a slice of bacon, or a piece of toast. And if we spread anything on our bread, it’s usually butter or jam. But in other countries, breakfast routines differ — and the most popular options might disgust many of us.
Take, for example, Vegemite. This Australian staple is a welcome addition to toasted bread, but the mere thought of spreading yeast extract on toast would make many Americans feel ill. Fortunately, this isn’t the only practical use for Vegemite. One engineer recently discovered that putting Vegemite on toast could actually conduct an electrical current. That’s one powerful snack.
Although 65% of American consumers purchased specialty foods last year, Vegemite — which is made from leftover brewers’ yeast, vegetables, and spices — isn’t a winner with U.S. consumers. That could change, however, if Americans start to see the spread as something useful. Luke Weston, an electronic engineer, found that the spread’s high salt content means that it’s actually conductive — and it can, therefore, be used to create a makeshift circuit board on toast.
The most common multilayer circuit boards can have anywhere from four to 10 layers, but Weston was able to bypass that entire process by drawing out careful lines of Vegemite with a syringe onto a dry piece of toast. To one end, he connected a nine-volt battery; to the other, an LED. That LED illuminated a different color depending on which circuit was being activated. Voila: an anytime food that’s truly electrifying.
That said, you probably wouldn’t be able to power your devices with Weston’s “bread board.” But it isn’t actually the first time Vegemite has found its way into the tech sphere. A few years ago, one professor actually 3D printed some Vegemite onto a slice of bread and tested its conductive properties. In that experiment, the spread lit up an LED, as well.
In the future, it’s possible there will be more uses for Vegemite. But for now, it will likely remain as the unique favorite food from the Land Down Under — and some would argue that that’s where it should stay.