The industry experts to whom she spoke said that Mast Brothers chocolate contained “defects,” and described the flavor of the brothers’ wildly popular chocolate, made in Brooklyn, New York, as variously “chalky,” “moldy,” and “bad.” The Masts, who employ a staff of 50 people, do not release financial information, but they have a factory and retail store in Brooklyn, another store in London, and a third store opening in Los Angeles.
That kind of growth and success is effectively unheard of in the high-end chocolate world.
Giller’s sources insisted many of the Masts’ early bars were not “bean-to-bar” creations as the Masts claimed, but actually made from a re-melted commercial chocolate base or couverture. The resulting article, which ran on Slate, was the first to publicly expose the industry’s widespread disdain for Mast Brothers. But no one felt they had enough evidence about the Masts’ alleged deception to be quoted on the record.
“Mast Brothers is a 100% bean-to-bar chocolate maker,” Mast wrote. “Every chocolate bar made by our company that you have lovingly purchased since we opened our first factory… was made ‘bean to bar.’ Any claim or insinuation otherwise is simply false…. [W] while we never claimed to make all our chocolate exclusively from bean to bar in those early days, we did describe ourselves as a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Since we were in fact making chocolate from bean to bar, we honestly thought we could say as much.”
Nevertheless, there was a backlash. “Are you a sucker if you like Mast Brothers chocolate?” asked an NPR story. Grub Street reported that people were returning bars to retailers in light of the controversy and that sales at those retailers dipped by up to 66 percent — though Mast Brothers said overall sales had actually gone up.