Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NEW YORK TIMES

Who Made Those Chocolate Wrappers?

By Hilary Greenbaum

Photo by Tuukka Koski


The story of Mast Brothers Chocolate is one of family and one of craft. Rick and Michael Mast, the young owners and proprietors of the company, make organic, artisanal sweets in their Brooklyn-based confectionery. They take great care with their ingredients (cacao beans imported directly from South America), their manufacturing process (time-honored techniques alongside custom-built machinery by a former aerospace engineer) and even their packaging.

“We originally just wrapped our chocolate in butcher paper, in hopes of doing anything we could to communicate the message that chocolate is food — not candy,” Rick Mast told me by e-mail. “We soon realized that the packaging needed something more so we tried to retain the feel of butcher paper but with beautifully designed patterns.” Every chocolate bar they create is hand-wrapped in specially designed patterned paper, one pattern for each of their many flavors. Although understated, the packaging, in its simplicity and thoughtfulness, alludes to the nature of the product it contains.

Originally, the papers used for the wrappers were purchased, but as of last year, they’ve all been designed in house by the owners, their crew, family or friends. The packaging pattern shown above was created by Michael, and being that Stumptown Coffee (their collaborator for this flavor) was founded in Portland, Ore., and recently opened a Brooklyn location, the pattern is a tribute to the bicycle culture of both locales. The anchor pattern for their Almond and Sea Salt bar (at right) was designed by Rick. He notes that it “is a play on old fleur-de-lis patterns commonly used by Italian paper makers with a Mast Brothers twist.”

The increasing popularity of the chocolates has inspired artists from around the globe to submit their own patterning designs and ideas for the Mast Brothers to use, but for now, they’ve decided to “keep it in the family.”