How Stupid do the Mast Bros Think We Are?

Clay Gordon
@clay
11/17/15 04:40:59PM
1,680 posts

Pretty Stupid, Apparently.


In a June, 2014 article on the World Science Festival website entitled, The Mast Bros Unveil the Physics Behind Chocolate, some rather amazing claims are made, and not all of them about the physics of chocolate. To be fair, it's impossible to know if the quotes attributed to Rick Mast are accurate or whether the reporter took a liberal interpretation. Either way, the site, which encourages visitors to "rethink" science [sic], is presenting a revisionist version of chocolate physics.

"... raw beans have a much higher acidity level so it’s a more botanic flavor,” Mast said. “Roasting brings out other flavors to balance out the acidity.” The bean’s sugar and protein molecules gain energy in the higher temperature, and that increased activity leads to new atoms coming together and new molecules being formed."

There is so much unnecessary obfuscation in the above paragraph I don't know where to begin. Sugar and protein molecules gain energy creating new atoms? Okay, the beans heat up and chemicals in the chocolate change. Why not give the compounds names? Pyrazines, furans, esters, and ketones are among the classes of compounds formed during roasting, Rick, via processes knows as the Maillard reaction, Strecker degredation, and pyrolysis/polymerization, among others. It's science, not sex education, you can be explicit - the more explicit the better - with chemical names and processes, they are not pornographic, are they? Are they too explicit for young scientists' ears?

Furthermore, the flavors created do NOT directly balance out the acidity. Which acid? Acetic or citric? Some of the acetic acid evaporates out [during roasting], but enough remains so that the Dutch had to invent alkalization to neutralize it (oops, that's history, not physics). Conching does reduce acidity among other things (and arguably, the Mast Bros do not conche properly if at all) - and conching effects acetic acid more than citric acid which is why some chocolates have bright fruity notes and others don't. Fruitiness is not a generally-recognized flavor trait of alkalized chocolate, however.

"... For that to happen, the particles have to be just a miniscule [sic] 20 microns across (for comparison, the width of a strand of hair is 50 microns)§. The grind “is still acidic until all the sugar crystals have slowly emulsified with the cocoa butter so it tastes like one thing" 

​I am sorry. Could. Not. Stop. Laughing. The chocolate is still acidic until the sugar has emulsified with the cocoa butter? No. That's not the way it works.  

First off, chocolate is not an emulsion. Chocolate is a suspension of particles in fat. Emulsifiers are used to reduce the surface tension of the fat molecules so the chocolate flows more easily. There is no physical process (and no chemical process) that I am aware of that reduces the acidity in chocolate by simple grinding, emulsification or no.  There is a reason why the chocolate is just so bad.

After eight years, Rick still appears to know very little about the real science - physics and chemistry - of chocolate. To give him some benefit of the doubt ... maybe he does know the science but chooses not to communicate it clearly. I don't know - but the end result is the same. 

§ - Or maybe not. According to Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_micrometres) the average width of a human hair is 100 microns. Footnoted as: ^According to The Physics Factbook, the diameter of human hair ranges from 17 to 181 µm. Ley, Brian (1999). But - maybe red beard hairs average 50 microns? Yeah. That has to be it.

[Note: edited to fix typos on 11/21/15.]




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/

updated by @clay: 11/21/15 02:03:41PM
Clay Gordon
@clay
11/17/15 04:55:28PM
1,680 posts

It just keeps getting better - a gift the keeps on giving!


"Another step is tempering, where chocolate goes from its naturally bumpy texture to the smooth surface we are used to as consumers."

Chocolate has a naturally bumpy texture. Who knew? Wonder what branch of topology that belongs to? But is topology maths, not physics?




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/

updated by @clay: 11/18/15 10:48:02AM
Sebastian
@sebastian
11/17/15 05:24:03PM
754 posts

behold, the power of marketing!

Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
11/17/15 05:34:56PM
527 posts

I chuckled when I read this.  I have Bernard Callebaut.  You have Rick Mast.  Let's unite and declare Jihad on such despicable chocolate infidels!

;-)

Larry2
@larry2
11/17/15 06:57:27PM
110 posts

I wish there were like buttons.  Like to all the above  posts.

Clay Gordon
@clay
11/18/15 10:28:23AM
1,680 posts

For those ChocolateLife members and others who do not know ...

there is more than a little controversy surrounding the Mast Bros.


Quelle surprise!

Much of the backlash (from people who know what good chocolate actually is) stems from the astonishing hubris of the Bros marketing and PR apparatus. In an article in Vanity Fair, Rick Mast grabs hold of that hubris, pins it to the breast of his chef coat, and wears it as a badge of honor: 

“I can affirm that we make the best chocolate in the world.”

WTF? Says who? Not any acknowledged, reputable, chocolate experts, anyway.

In an article on Slate.com the very next month, that: 

“We are a dangerous company because we are outsiders to the chocolate industry, never leaning on industry norms.”

Um, no. The Mast Bros are dangerous, IMO, but not because they ignore industry norms. The danger is when other chocolate makers copy them, thinking that if they make chocolate like the Mast Bros they too will be successful, as I point out in the Slate article. Rick jumps through the open door willingly to sum it up: 

“Thousands of chocolate lovers make the journey to visit our factory every week,” says Mast. “These are our chocolate experts. If it is the perspective of an expert that you seek, I encourage you to become that expert.”

I was reading Ethan Siegel on Medium this morning when I ran across this quote in an article on NASA's EM drive:

“No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” [Emphasis is mine.]
— Hunter S. Thompson

Freakin Hunter S. Thompson of all people just nailed it. On. The. Head. In the immortal worlds of Emeril - “BAM!”

I encourage everyone to read the entire article, substituting 'cocoa' and/or 'chocolate' for 'any word vaguely related to maths, science, history, and/or physics.' Here is an edited version [text in brackets] of Siegel's text to show you where this leads, if you are too busy in your workshop actually educating yourself about chocolate with an open mind and curious heart:

“We like to think, as human beings, if we can only keep an open mind, that anything is possible. That if we put our minds to it, buckle down and do our research and apply ourselves 100%, we can not only understand what’s going on as well as any expert, but that we ourselves can make valuable contributions to whatever field we’re interested in. We think this about ourselves when it comes to [energy|chocolate], [the environment|chocolate], [health and medicine|cocoa and chocolate], and even [physics and mathematics|cocoa and chocolate - refer to the title of the article that spawned this thread].

Yet simultaneously, we’re also aware of the years — if not decades — of study that’s typically required in order to become a legitimate expert [in any one of those fields|in chocolate]. We know it’s difficult, even for the smartest and most talented among us, to make groundbreaking discoveries in a field we’ve spent our entire lives working on.

But there’s this romantic notion we all hang onto, nonetheless, that if some talented maverick with a novel perspective comes along, even without the proper background, they (or possible we, ourselves) can change the course of [history|chocolate] forever.

This is the story we tell ourselves about a genius like Albert Einstein, whose general theory of relativity turns 100 this year. It’s the story we tell ourselves about Tesla, Edison, Faraday, Newton and more [are the Mast Bros in this category?]. We all know the danger of following the crowd, of a herd mentality, and of accepting what’s presently known in science [chocolate] as absolute, indisputable truth. And that’s why, when it comes to the biggest lies and hoaxes of all, it’s often the [most intelligent|hippest] among us who are the most gullible.”

Amirite? Or Amirite?

[Note: Edited to correct typos on 11/21/2015.]




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/

updated by @clay: 11/21/15 02:06:53PM
Clay Gordon
@clay
11/18/15 10:46:17AM
1,680 posts

Another fun substitution game. Substitute hipster for expert!

“Thousands of chocolate lovers make the journey to visit our factory every week,” says Mast. “These are our chocolate [experts|hipsters]. If it is the perspective of a(n) [expert|hipster] that you seek, I encourage you to become that [expert|hipster].”




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Brad Churchill
@brad-churchill
11/18/15 11:51:51AM
527 posts

You want a real good laugh?

Here are some Brooklyn Water Makers (Wow, the parallels!  LMAO)

Timmy Brothers – Water Makers

[Note: Edited to correct typos on 11/21/2015.]

Clay Gordon
@clay
11/21/15 02:11:05PM
1,680 posts

I love, love, love, love the Timmy Bros, Water Makers parody. For those of you interested, here's the link to the Mast Bros video that's being parodied.

 




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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Ning-Geng Ong
@ning-geng-ong
11/30/15 02:45:48AM
36 posts

I've watched the water makers parody, and shared that link out, some colleagues actually thought the product was credible... Anyway, the parallels with Mast Bro's video is uncanny, down to the intro, the retake, the zoom, the pace of speach... I would believe it if someone told me that the water makers vid is a parody on Mast Bro's video.

 

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