This is the second in a regular series (ultimately at least quarterly) of Group Reviews, a new feature for 2014 here on TheChocolateLife.
The idea behind the reviews is to get members to contribute their opinions about chocolates that are either very popular, have been heavily hyped, and/or that have received strong positive reviews from rating and reviewing web sites and/or awards programs.
The inspiration for the feature comes from José Ortega y Gasset’s 1929 book, The Revolt of the Masses [ Amazon affiliate link ]. In this book, Gasset predicts that future generations will come to rely more heavily on the recommendations of friends, colleagues, and even strangers over those of experts. If asked to choose between the advice of "experts" and the impressions of "regular" people, the majority will turn to the latter. This helps explain why many people tend to trust crowd-sourced aggregate reviews over those from reviewers in established media outlets.
For this Group Review - Anything made by the Mast Bros
Think about your response in three parts.
Part 1 :: Present your sensory impressions - Aroma, Taste, and Texture - of one or more of the chocolates.
Part 2 :: Give a rating of the chocolate on whatever scale you want (or that you use for your own purposes) - 1 (low) through 10 (high), 1 through 100, or an impressionistic scale from low (This chocolate is so bad that if I were gifted it I would not even regift it to someone I did not care about); to high (This chocolate is so good that I would have to think three times before sharing any, or This is a desert island chocolate).
Part 3 :: This part is optional but is very important for this review and can include a discussion about other aspects of the chocolate - including your thoughts on packaging, marketing -- topics that are not central to the chocolate itself.
Mast Brothers were one of the first companies that I can think of who realized that beautiful packaging will entice people to buy chocolate. Their high quality, artistic, multi-colored wrapping papers draw many people to buy their bars. Right or wrong, an inescapable fact is that marketing has an incredible influence on buying. I have been in chocolate stores observing uninformed people make decisions. The majority of the time, when faced with a wall of many bars, uninformed people will just choose the one that looks best without knowing anything about the maker. Since the vast majority of Americans know very, very little about artisan chocolate this is how many people decide which bars to buy.
I think that Mast Brothers also influenced other companies to use high quality artistic wrapping paper as well. I imagine that makes production costs higher, though, thus decreasing the profit margin.
Sadly, the converse is also true-- some very high quality makers are often overlooked only because the packaging was not as attractive as other bars.
I tasted 9 different plain dark bars of them in 2010, 2011 and the last ones in December 2012. Sorry to say this but overall I didn't like them. In my opinion the texture is terrible, no good melt and no delicate flavours. Two bars were even disgusting: San Martin and Papua New Guinea. San Martin was very bitter like aspirin and the Papua had very heavy smoke flavours. I spew them out and throw the bars away :-( I hope they improved their production style since then....