Q&A: Brothers say company didn't mislead customers about remelted chocolate

NEW YORK -- A scandal is roiling the world of fancy chocolate: Did two brothers misleadingly sell remelted chocolate and sprout beards to cultivate a hipster appeal?

See Full Article

The headlines began after a site called DallasFood.org published a series about Rick and Michael Mast, who have been toasted in food circles for their stylishly wrapped chocolate bars that can cost $10 a piece. The problem is that the brothers described their company as "bean-to-bar," or chocolate made from scratch.

In the "Mast Brothers: What Lies Beneath the Beards," DallasFood.org outlined how the pair initially used melted industrial chocolate, referred to as couverture. The series concluded by calling the brothers the "Milli Vanilli of chocolate," a reference the pop duo who lip synced their way to fame.

In response, the Mast Brothers acknowledged using couverture in the past, but said they were open about the practice at the time. They say they haven't used remelted chocolate since 2009.

The brothers say they always considered themselves "bean-to-bar" because they were making at least some chocolate that way from the start.

Fueling the controversy are photographs showing the transformation of the brothers' appearance. The before shots show them clean shaven. In the after photos, they're bearded with Amish overtones.

Here's what Rick Mast had to say at the brothers' Brooklyn factory:

Q: What is extent to which you used remelted chocolate, and when did that stop?

A: First and foremost, we're 100 per cent a bean-to-bar chocolate company. That's important because the public has been disserved by the media and sensationalist headlines to promote this idea that we're not that.

Q: But you've said in response to the stories that you did use remelted chocolate in the past.

A: Right, absolutely. In the first year or so, we would purchase couverture for all sorts of experiments, which is something we have always been honest and open about. That's gotten so out of proportion, that we were hiding it.

We told chefs, we told competitors, we told colleagues, we told the press that we were using couverture for all sorts of different stuff we were working on.

Q: Did that include using remelted chocolate in the bars you were selling?

A: We have never, ever remelted chocolate and sold it as bean-to-bar chocolate.

Q: Were bars that were made bean-to-bar labeled as "bean-to-bar"?

A: If people would ask, 'Did you make these bars bean-to-bar?' We would say yes.

Q: But if it's not labeled which ones are bean-to-bar, how would people know which is which, unless you told them?

A: We weren't even labeling bean-to-bar as "bean-to-bar." I understand if we put a chocolate bar out there that said "bean-to-bar," and it wasn't -- that is 100 per cent misleading. But if you're not doing that and you are telling people that this is not bean-to-bar, I don't know what else to do.

Q: Another part of what fueled the story is the transformation of your image.

A: Before I had a beard, I didn't have a beard. I know, it's a big scandal. I like to dress like I dress. We grew beards because my brother and I made a bet that once we sold X amount of bars, we wouldn't shave. And we stuck with it.

Q: Have you thought of changing your look as a result of all this?

A: No. I think people might underestimate my ability to focus on just what we need to do, which is make great chocolate and grow a beautiful business.

Q: Looking back, is there anything you would do differently in the early days?

A: No. You're talking about a nearly decade ago. You're talking about something I was open about then, and I'm telling you now. We never lied about using couverture.

Q: Have any clients called and said they want to rethink their orders?

A: No, absolutely not. That is the amazing thing out of all of this. If anything it's just reaffirmed our relationships even more. The silver lining is that sales are great.

If anything, this is going to create a lot of great awareness.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • 'There isn't a best card out there': How to choose a credit card that works for you

    Economic CBC News
    Credit cards are sometimes lambasted as high-cost consumer debt that can quickly get borrowers into trouble. But if you pay off the balance each month, credit cards can also have significant perks. Loyalty programs like Air Miles, which has both a standalone program and partnerships with credit cards, have drawn a lot of criticism lately, but Canadians are still attached to credit cards that offer rewards. Source
  • Chevron says it has won the latest round in an Ecuadorian legal battle

    Economic CTV News
    Oil giant Chevron Corp. says it has won a round in the Canadian courts in a complex legal battle with a group of Ecuadorian villagers who are trying to collect on a massive judgement they won in Ecuador's courts. Source
  • Liberals ask President Trump to approve Keystone XL pipeline

    Economic CTV News
    Canada’s natural resources minister says that he hopes the new U.S. administration will allow the Keystone XL pipeline quashed by Barack Obama to proceed, noting that all Canadian regulatory approvals are in place. Jim Carr spoke to CTV’s Power Play from Washington, D.C. Source
  • Apple depicts Qualcomm as a shady monopolist in US$1B lawsuit

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple is suing mobile chip maker Qualcomm for $1 billion in a patent fight pitting the iPhone maker against one of its major suppliers. The 100-page complaint filed Friday in a San Diego federal court depicts Qualcomm as a greedy monopolist abusing its power in a key segment of the mobile chip market to extort royalties for iPhone innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm's technology. Source
  • Trump's 'America first' tone worries head of Canadian oil and gas industry group

    Economic CTV News
    Trump takes charge: Sworn in as 45th president of the U.S.A. Source
  • Obama administration urges Canada to reverse Super Bowl ad decision

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - In one of its final communications with Canada, the outgoing Obama administration is engaging in pigskin politics: asking the Trudeau government to overturn a regulation affecting ads during the Super Bowl. The U.S. Source
  • Oil and stock prices higher as Donald Trump sworn in

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Stocks higher as Donald Trump lays out glimpse of future economic policies

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Stocks close higher as Donald Trump lays out glimpse of future economic policies

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Navdeep Bains defends open borders for global trade in Davos speech

    Economic CBC News
    Automakers on both sides of the border fear the potential negative effects of a Donald Trump presidency, Canada's economic development minister said Thursday as he met with international business and political leaders in Switzerland. Navdeep Bains said he's been having nervous conversations with concerned automakers, both at the recent auto show in Detroit and during his current visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Source