Alice and Cyril Callister graduate from Ballarat School of Mines.
Credit: The Callister Family.

The Man who invented Vegemite

Cyril Callister was born on 16 February 1893, in Chute, Victoria. He was the second son of nine children born to William Callister, a school teacher and postmaster, and William’s wife Rosetta.

Cyril attended Ballarat School of Mines, now Federation University, Ballarat. He won a scholarship to attend the University of Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Science degree in 1914, a Master of Science degree in 1917 and a Doctorate of Science in 1931.

Cyril Callister enlisted in 1915 but as a brilliant young scientist, his enlistment was dramatically cancelled against his wishes. He was assigned instead to work in munitions in England, Wales and Scotland.

Back in Australia, he took a job as a laboratory assistant at the Fred Walker Company, later Kraft. There, he invented the yeast extract that was sold as Vegemite. He also packed cheese in a can, helping to develop processed cheese in Australia.

The Cyril Callister Foundation was established in 2019 to tell the little known story of the great Australian scientist, celebrate his life, work and scientific legacy and establish scholarships designed to assist regional youth follow in the footsteps of Cyril Callister and study at university.

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