Fortunately, this immediate disillusionment is not always the case. Shawn Askinoisie, founder of the bean-to-bar maker Askinoisie Chocolate, summarizes it best: the Mast Brothers are “a gateway chocolate” into “another strata of chocolate possibilities” (Askinoisie). As flawed as a Mast Bar may be, neither the taste nor the texture are unpleasant enough to revolt. For craft chocolate newcomers, the bitter bars may still feel refreshing or at least interesting compared to sugary Hershey’s and Mars bars. This is particularly true for the type of consumer that the Mast Brothers’ hipster branding targets, the type of consumer on average is more likely to want to learn more about craft foods and artisan goods and to buy small, local, and eco-friendly. Thus intrigued, they visit the Mast factory, possibly listen to videos and read articles, and in so doing, hear for possibly the first time about bean-to-bar philosophy, cacao production processes, and labor and environmental concerns related to the industry. The could then be motivated enough to try out other fine chocolates as well, eventually learning to discern craft chocolates of better taste and texture than their initial Mast bars. In the best cases, they might even seek out knowledge about cacao production and history from more reputable sources.
At the end of the day, the Mast Brothers have done an outstanding job—arguably better than any other maker—at crafting a bean-to-bar brand that can lure newcomers into taking a chance on the pricey but exquisite world of craft chocolate. It is a shame that their marketing quality is so far ahead of their actual chocolate, for because of this, they instill a poorer first impression of craft chocolate quality than it deserves, possibly losing potential aficionados as a result. What the craft chocolate world still needs is a maker that only markets like Mast but also creates smooth, shiny, velvety bars that melt in the mouth in cascades of dynamic flavors.
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