According to their website, Mast Brothers is a New York based chocolate maker “introducing chocolate to the world with an obsessive attention to detail, meticulous craftsmanship, groundbreaking innovation, and inspirational simplicity. If you ask me, as I have never tasted the chocolate the brand produces (mostly because it is particularly hard to find in France), I would say it is expensive chocolate with a packaging that will make you instantly melt. If you think that my enthusiasm and my pun are exaggerated, I advise you to take a look a their website¹.
I’m not the first person to be amazed by the graphical awesomeness of Mast Brothers’ wrapping papers. Garance Doré, international blogger, author and fashion photograph sang the praises of the two bearded brothers four years ago² and, following her, a lot of food enthusiasts have expressed their admiration for the quality and the beauty of the Brooklyn-born company.
Articles in newspapers all over the world, successful ethical-themed marketing, a lot of 10$ chocolate bars sold in posh shops in so many countries, and even a new store opened last year in London… Everything was going pretty well for Rick and Michael Mast before December 2015 and the big scandal!
The first stone seems to have been throne by Scott, author of the DallasFood.org blog. He explains, in a four parts heavily documented article³, how he has discovered that the Mast Brothers have been lying about being a strictly bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Right after the last part of the article was published, Deena Shanker published an article on the same topic on the website Quartz⁴, adding experts testimony to the initial story.
Just like that, the whole reputation of the refined brand went down.
I can’t say I didn’t feel a bit sad about the whole thing. First because, to be fair, I thought that it was a lovely story. Two brothers starting from scratch, focused on ethic and quality, offering their clients those beautifully wrapped simple bars of chocolate. Any food or design enthusiast would have been charmed.
But mostly, I was shocked at how aggressive English media were, starting by The Guardian⁵ and The Daily Mail⁶. The articles they published right after the issue was raised by DallasFood and Quartz were so harsh towards the two brothers. So, now that it has been almost proven that the brothers mislead their clients, it is justified to qualify everything they did as wrong?
And as easily as that, it becomes a massive wave of hipster hate.
I can’t help but feel bad for Rick and Michael. It’s surely true that they lied about their chocolate, but do we have to blame them for manufacturing a successful marketing campaign. I mean, there is a lot of brands out there that lie about how their products are made. I don’t feel like they receive the same hate as those two guys did. They sure created a hipster image for themselves to go along with their company’s image but how it wrong to use what is trendy to sell more?
I don’t want to be the devil’s attorney here or say that what the two Mast Brother’s did isn’t wrong. But I still feel like the treatment they received from the media was really harsh. If a small luxury chocolate brand gets that kind of hate for lying about a part of their products, why don’t the media show the same kind of grit when it comes to condemn bigger brands behaviour.