The Mast Brothers' chocolate looks elegant in designer wrappers that would look more fitting in an art museum than next to a Hershey’s bar. The Brooklyn based chocolate company, started by brothers Rick and Michael Mast, claims to have been making bean to bar chocolate since they first began selling them in 2006. A recent four-part brand crushing blog post from Dallasfoods.org revealed that the Mast Brothers' chocolates were as artisanal as a sesame seed bun from McDonalds.
“They weren’t roasting the beans. They were actually starting with commercial chocolate bars, melting those and adding to that and creating the chocolate,” Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn said on Boston Public Radio Wednesday.
The popularity and growth of the Mast Brothers chocolate can be attributed to their story and not the taste of their chocolate, Koehn says. “The story was part of what consumers were buying. The artisanal piece was important. The way the beans were roasted, the organic nature of the beans, the whole story, the whole narrative was part of what we at the Harvard Business School call the value proposition.” Koehn said.
Now that the Mast Brothers' story has been debunked and they have been outed as --what the chocolate industry calls-- melters. Koehn believes that they have hurt their image and their relationship with their customers.
“They’re going to find themselves with customers falling off because when people think that they are buying a bean-to-bar piece of chocolate, as well as the narrative behind it, they believe that they are buying something that is more authentic than a Hershey's bar or more authentic than the chocolate in Mars M&M's. They are partly paying for the trust that they have in the Mast Brothers' story.”
Listen to our interview with Nancy Koehn above.