But does Mast Brothers’ chocolate live up to its reputation? Many skeptical specialists contend that Mast’s Brooklyn location, hipster image, and beautiful packaging are the real reasons for its popularity—not its taste. “If you were to ask the world’s top chocolate reviewers to rate bars, Mast Brothers would hit in the bottom 5 percentile,” said Clay Gordon, a Good Food Awards judge and the author of Discover Chocolate. “There are defects in every bar, and the chocolate is bad.” Writer, chocolate educator, and International Chocolate Awards judge Eagranie Yuh said she’s tried Mast bars that tasted stale or moldy. Both Yuh and Lauren Adler, the owner of Seattle-based specialty shop Chocolopolis, commented that some Mast bars have an unpleasant chalky texture.
Mast Brothers have responded, claiming they are unpopular in those stores because they didn’t participate in the alleged practice of paying the experts for their expertise.
Most specialty chocolate shops rely on panels of judges to determine which bars to carry, so the straightforward explanation for Mast’s exclusion from these stores is that Mast’s chocolate didn’t wow the judges. But Rick Mast has an alternative theory of why most specialty stores don’t carry his brand. When I asked him about experts’ criticism of his bars, he replied, “We are a dangerous company because we are outsiders to the chocolate industry, never leaning on industry norms.” Mast went on, “We have achieved incredible success without paying the self-proclaimed industry chocolate experts that you have cited a penny for their ‘expertise.’”
The full article is a short two pages and an interesting read on the politics of chocolate making.