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December 18, 2014

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Fake name, real (delicious) chocolate

It’s impossible to separate the man behind Vegas’ upcoming chocolate shop from his creation

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Courtesy Photo

Max Brenner will bring its decadent chocolate treats to the Forum Shops at Caesars this summer. The New York City store, above, is located at Union Square.

Imagine a world in which chocolate is king.

There are chocolate pizzas, chocolate quesadillas, chocolate s'mores and something utterly extravagant called The Sticky Caramel Chocolate Concoction. This isn't a special quadrant of Willy Wonka's lair; it's the world of Max Brenner, professional sweet tooth, bald man and chocolate anthropologist.

This summer, Max is bringing his international chocolate kingdom to the Forum Shops at Caesars. There's only one small hiccup: Max doesn't actually exist.

At least, he didn't exist when Oded Brenner and Max Fichtman launched the chocolate company in Israel in 1996.

"I'm Brenner and my partner for the first year was Max, so we called it Max Brenner," explained Oded Brenner over the phone from New York, where he now lives, spending much of his time inside the Manhattan location of the Max Brenner chocolate emporium (shop doesn't quite do it justice) just outside of Union Square.

Now, 14 years after launching his career in confections, Brenner has taken on the name of his chocolate-y creation. In fact, the business and its creator have become so intertwined there's no separating one from the other.

"The face that is on the logo, it's my face. When we went out of Israel people saw Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man and it's my face, so they called me Max," Brenner said.

The nickname stuck. Today, Brenner is Max Brenner, the bald chocolate genius molding ever more decadent treats that sometimes come served in syringes or with open flames and often doused in chocolate. What started as an experiment by the Israeli Brenner has spread to Singapore, The Philippines, Australia and the U.S. Besides the Max Brenner outpost in New York, the chocolate stop has a locations in Philadelphia with both Boston and Las Vegas soon to be added to the empire.

And Brenner is his own chocolate ambassador, singing his medium's praises with sticky-sweet excitement.

"I think chocolate, in general, is a product with a smile," said Brenner.

That's Max Brenner, the bald man who makes chocolate.

— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly

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