If You Grow It, They Will Buy: The Chocolate Beard Scandal

There’s something trustworthy about a guy with a nice beard. It takes patience to grow and maintain it, it takes care to keep it healthy and groomed, and it takes confidence to rock it with pride. But what happens when a beard is used for chocolatey deception? Just ask Rick and Michael Mast – two entrepreneurial brothers who’ve got egg on their face. Or recycled chocolate, rather.

The Mast brothers are being called the “Milli Vanilli of chocolate” by numerous news outlets – the ’80’s pop duo famous for lip-syncing their way to the top of the charts – and questions have been raised about whether their “bean-to-bar” chocolate bars – which boast being made from scratch – have actually been made by melting down industrial chocolate.

In the immortal words of Milli Vanilli – Girl, you know it’s true.

CBS News recently cracked the story after DallasFood.org published an article series about the Mast brothers, calling not only their practices but also their image into question. When news broke that the “bean-to-bar” company might actually be using melted industrial chocolate (called “couverture”) to create their bars, the brothers were quick to acknowledge that during their formative years, they did indeed experiment with recipes and chocolates to figure out what would work best for them, but that the entire story has been blown way out of proportion.

“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,” Rick Mast told CBS News.

“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… We have never, ever remelted chocolate and sold it as bean-to-bar chocolate.”


The idea of the media taking one factoid and blowing it up into a scandal is not exactly far-fetched or out of the ordinary, but the brothers’ personal styles were also called into question, implying that to better push the grassroots DIY small business image, they grew beards.

“Before I had a beard, I didn’t have a beard. I know, it’s a big scandal,” Rick Mast told CBS News.

“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.”

While the details and truth behind the story remain murky, and continue to be further mucked up by media outlets stirring the pot, one thing is for sure – if you hadn’t heard of Mast Brothers Chocolate – or their beards – before, you certainly have now.



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