In a landmark scientific study, Marmite has discovered the reason why we love it or hate it – proving that the answer is in our genes. Over the past 12 months, Marmite has worked with one of the UK’s leading genetic testing centres – DNAFit – to conduct a clinical trial to determine whether there is a biological link to people’s taste preference for loving or hating Marmite.
Coined ‘The Marmite Gene Project’, the ground-breaking study has scientifically shown that people are born genetically more likely to be lovers or more likely to be haters of Marmite and conclusively shows that there is a genetic foundation to Marmite taste preference.
Cementing its reputation as the most loved and hated product of our generation, the genetic study recruited more than 260 healthy adults, with an equal split of men and women taking part across the UK.
Study participants were first asked to taste a 2g serving of Marmite on their tongue for 10 seconds, filling out a questionnaire to identify their assumed ‘love or hate’ Marmite taste preference and their reaction to Marmite once tasted.
Saliva cheek swabs were then taken from each participant to obtain DNA samples that were sent for genetic analysis to identify SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) associated with Marmite taste preference. More commonly known as ‘snips’, SNPs are single DNA building blocks that have an impact on specific traits.
A whopping 8,760 hours were spent swabbing, analysing and interpreting results. The Marmite Gene Project has identified 15 candidate SNPs that are linked to Marmite taste preference.
Thomas Roos (MSc Biology & MSc Clinical Research, Stanford University), Principal Investigator 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.”
However, Roos also offers hope for all Marmite lovers hoping to convert friends and families to the ‘love’ side of the spectrum.
“Like anything in genetics, taste preference is dictated by both nature and nurture. Our environment can impact our taste preference as much as the genes we are born with.”
A scientific White Paper is available here
detailing the full findings. Gene Test Kits are available to buy here
so people can discover for themselves whether they were born Marmite lovers or haters.
Philippa Atkinson, Marmite 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. The DNA data provides a glimpse into our taste preferences. While it’s fascinating looking at the data on this scale, the fun really starts when you test your own DNA and begin to delve into your own genetic make-up and see if you were born a lover or hater of Marmite.”
Avi Lasarow, CEO of DNAFit, said: “Advancing technology means we live in a world of increased appetite for highly personalised food and fitness information. These fascinating findings show again how each day we are understanding more and more about the role that genetics play in our daily lives. The mystery around Marmite is one of the great British food debates, and we are proud to have led this exciting research project.”
Find out more about the science behind The Marmite Gene Project in our short film
and join the conversation using #MarmiteGene.