Richard McLuckie explains the family dispute that led to the creation of new game, Who Put the Marmite in the Fridge?

DIARY OF AN INVENTOR: Richard McLuckie and Who Put the Marmite in the Fridge?

Living in the South of France with a French partner is a dream come true for many people, but there is a down side.

Because of the long hot summers (which must be endured), my French wife insists on putting every type of foodstuff in the fridge. This includes my beloved Marmite.

Clearly, as every Marmite-lover knows, you should never put Marmite in the fridge. And despite my protestations, this annoying habit has been passed on to my children, leading to my daily question: Who put the Marmite in the fridge?

Frustrated at trying to spread a lump of hardened Marmite, I invented a game in an attempt to educate my two young daughters as to what should be in the fridge and what shouldn’t be.

They really enjoy the game (based on the ‘Old Maid’ card game), and asked me to make versions to play with their friends. My wife, who’s an English teacher, also wanted versions to play with her pupils to help them learn English.

Buoyed by the apparent popularity of my Marmite card game and being a board game designer at heart, I decided to approach Unilever (owner of the Marmite brand) to see whether there would be any possibility of us producing the game under licence.

I was contacted by their Licensing Agent, Hot Pickle Ltd. ( who instantly loved the idea of quirky Marmite games. They advised that rather than launching with one single card game, that I should think about developing two or three products to create a range of Marmite inspired and licensed products.

So, with my Pants on Fire Games business partner, Stuart, we put our minds together in designing another game for the range. We went on a brainstorming dog walk. Two hours later we had the basic idea for a second game – our inspiration coming from Marmite’s “Love It or Hate It” motto – but had lost the dog due to our minds being elsewhere. We also had the idea for a 3D jigsaw of the classic Marmite jar.

After pitching our trio of ideas back to Hot Pickle, we finalised the licensing contract with Unilever which outlines our desired retailer target list, our forecast sales projections, required royalty contributions for the use of the Marmite mark, and the total length term of the agreement. 

Once the contract was signed, the next stage was the exciting design development process. We were given official Marmite style guides detailing how the Marmite brand should be represented, from the use of the logo to the pantone colours we should use. Our designers did a great job of incorporating all of that into our own unique Pants on Fire designs.

Finally we had to ensure that all our Marmite designs were signed off and approved by Unilever.

This was a comprehensive process of various approval stages including initial concept submissions, to concept amendments, pre-production samples and finally post production sign off. Each step took a number of days, but Hot Pickle guided us expertly through the whole process.

The exciting end result is that the Pants on Fire, official Marmite games are available in shops and online now.

The only down side I should point out however, is that the ‘Who Put The Marmite In The Fridge’ game has not had the desired educational impact on my family as I still find my Marmite jar nestling in the fridge.

And incidentally, the dog made his own way home.

If you are an inventor and you’d like to share your story, email us at

Richard will be on a Board Game panel at our Toy & Game Inventors Workshop event later this month. If you would like to pitch your game idea to the likes of Hasbro, Flair and Asobi, click here to buy tickets.

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