Scouting for Cookies

by Jeanne

CookiechartThe Girl Scouts of America began selling cookies in the 1920s as a way to learn self-reliance and fund their own activities. Girls and their moms began by baking sugar cookies, wrapping them up in wax paper, and selling them throughout the neighborhood for 25 to 30 cents per dozen. Proceeds were used for troop activities and service projects. Over the years, Girl Scout Cookies scaled up to using commercial bakers and billions of cookies being sold each year by girls dressed in brown and green throughout the United States.

Critics say, that selling $400 million in annual sales is counterproductive to fighting childhood obesity efforts.  The cookies are made with trans fats, which can elevate bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.  Thin Mints, which make up a quarter of all cookie sales, has only 1 gram of trans fat per serving, which is four cookies. (Phew!)

So what is it about these cookies that compel us to buy several boxes, at $4.00 a pop?  There are cookies on the every day grocery shelf that are probably better tasting than Girl Scout cookies. Maybe it’s because they are visible once a year that by the time you seen them you’ve missed them for the other 11 months of the year that in turn there’s this overwhelming pent-up desire to stock-up.  It’s always the thing you can’t have that becomes more necessary to have–so we buy several boxes.   

Currently two bakers, ABC/Interbake Foods and Little Brownie Bakers, produce the cookies. The Girl Scouts organization requires each to produce Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwiches (also called Do-si-dos) and Shortbread (also called Trefoils).  The bakers name the cookies, and often recycle past names of the more popular varieties. This does explain why so many of us see this year’s Caramel Delights and insist on calling them Samoas, or confusing the young girls by asking for Tagalongs, when what they want are Peanut Butter Patties–one of my favorites particularly if pulled from the freezer.

Girl Scouts of the USA is the largest, all-female serving, volunteer organization in the world. Cookie sales teach girls about sales, marketing and money management. All profits from cookie sales go directly to the council in which the cookies were sold. A portion goes directly to the troop responsible for the direct sale.

For recipes using Girl Scout cookies visit The Art Institute of Atlanta Girl Scout Cookoff winning recipes.

Image credit:  Buffalo Erie County Girl Scouts