Vogel’s Bread is a Kiwi enigma. Part bread, part muesli, and part vegetarian meatloaf.
Abandoned on a desert island with but one choice of food, most New Zealanders could survive for years, quite happily, on nothing more than Marmite on generously buttered Vogel’s toast.
Where, exactly, one might find a toaster, let alone somewhere to plug it in, on a desert island, is anyone’s guess. Especially when, due to a number of closely guarded secret ingredients which have magical, almost NASA-grade, heat-resistant properties, it takes no less than 3 full, frustrating toast cycles before even the palest shade of tan appears on either side of a slice of Vogel’s bread.
In fact it takes so long to toast Vogel’s bread, that it is, in New Zealand, a perfectly legitimate (and commonly used) excuse, when arriving late for work, so simply state, “Yeahnah, sorry mate, I had Vogels for breakfast, you know?”. Universally accepted, it’s good for tardiness of up to 11am, and is much less likely to get you the sack than some of the better known classics, including; “Child with Meningitis”, and “Messy Divorce”.
Until relatively recently, Vogels was available only in New Zealand, and was, as such, the first food demanded by jet-lagged and hungry ex-pats returning home to crash at mum’s for a few weeks.
During this period, although undocumented, Vogel’s Bread was New Zealands 5th most exported commodity (behind Dairy, Wool, Dairy, and more Dairy), with every Kiwi leaving the country, for periods of more than 3 months, packing in their suitcase a minimum of 2 loaves to tie them over till the next trip home.
Forced to freeze and ration out their daily fix, it became yet another point of conversation amongst Kiwis living abroad. One which usually went along the lines of, “..and another reason why this country is shitter than than NZ, is those pathetic bran slabs that pass for brown bread here!”
In most countries, the clear response was simply, “Well why don’t you f**k off back to your own country then?”. In Britain, however, they took a more canny, businesslike approach. During the early 2000s, English bakers began making Vogels bread locally, under license, to supply, at a profit, the fast growing community of London-based Kiwis who loved absolutely everything to do with New Zealand – except actually living there.
Not that this quelled their instinctive desire for a good moan. Instead, rather like Guinness to the Irish, the complaint merely shifted to one of, “Sure, you can buy it here, but it’s not as good as the stuff back home.”
To which the British eventually replied, in line with the rest of the world, “Well why don’t you also f**k of back to your own country?”
Surprisingly, very few did.