Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies are cookies sold by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) as one of its major fundraisers for local Scout units. Members of the GSUSA have been selling cookies since 1917 to raise funds. Girls who participate can earn prizes for their efforts. There are also unit incentives if the unit as a whole does well. As of 2007, sales were estimated at about 200 million boxes per year.
The first cookie sales by an individual Scout unit was by the Mistletoe Troop in Oklahoma, in December 1917 at their local high school. In 1922, the Girl Scout magazine The American Girl suggested cookie sales as a fund-raiser and provided a simple cookie recipe from a regional director for the Girl Scouts of Chicago. From 1933 to 1935 country wide, organized cookie sales grew with Troops in Philadelphia and New York City using the cookie selling model to develop the marketing and sales skills of their local troops. In 1933, Girl Scouts in Philadelphia organized the first official sale, selling homemade cookies at the windows of local utility companies. In 1936 the national organization began licensing commercial bakers to produce cookies to increase availability and reduce lag time. 125 troops launched cookie sales that year.
During World War II the Girl Scouts sold calendars in addition to cookies, because of shortages of flour, sugar, and butter. In 1943 there were 48 cookies per box. By 1943 Girl Scouts also collected fat in cans to aid the war effort and sold War Bonds at no profit.
In the 1950s, three more cookie recipes were added: “Shortbreads,” “Peanut Butter Sandwich”, and “Thin Mints.” 6 types of cookies were being sold nationwide by 1956. Greater cookie sales occurred due to the Baby Boom generation entering Girl Scout in the 1960s. The ‘Samoa’ was added in 1975. In 1978, the National Council reduced the number of bakeries providing cookies and standardized the packaging and pricing of the cookies.
Keebler decided to become a Girl Scout cookies bakery in 1998 as The Girl Scouts were a major participant in the cookie market. In 1998, cookie sale awards were instituted.
With the 2005 Trans-Fat controversy, the Girl Scouts moved to make the cookies healthier and provide nutritional information on the cookie box. In 1998, Keeblers became one of two official GSUSA cookie bakeries. In 2009 the number of Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, and Tagalongs in each box was reduced and Lemon Chalet Cremes became smaller because of the increasing costs of ingredients and transportation.
Each Girl Scout regional council decides which licensed baking company to use for cookie sales in that council, thus determining which varieties are available in the area covered by the council.
Girl Scouts sell cookies to relatives, friends, neighbors, and others in their town or city. In recent years, because of safety concerns, an increased emphasis has been placed on cookie booths, where girls sell from tables in public areas under the supervision of adult troop leaders, rather than door-to-door. Many councils offer the option for customers to sponsor boxes of cookies to be sent to U.S. servicemen and women. Cookies are also online.
As an incentive to sell, Girl Scouts are offered recognitions, such as stuffed animals, trinkets, coupons, credits toward Girl Scout camp, activities, or uniforms. These recognitions vary from Girl Scout council to council. The recognitions are usually cumulative, so that a girl who earns the recognition for selling 50 boxes of cookies will also get the 25- and 20-box items. In some councils, girls may choose to earn more money for their troop instead of recognitions if they are working toward a troop goal such as a trip or other expensive activity. This type of fund raising is intended to teach Girl Scouts valuable skills in planning, teamwork, finance, organization, communication, and goal setting.
Also, award badges exist for sales: Cookie Count, Smart Cookie, The Cookie Connection, Cookie Biz, and Cookies & Dough.
Traditionally each regional Girl Scout council set the prices for cookies sold in that council. A 2006 article in the Boston Globe noted that price "is hardly ever a factor, until buyers find out that the same box of cookies is selling for less in the next town over." The Globe found that a box of Thin Mints sold for $3.50 in Rockland, Massachusetts and $4.00 in neighboring Norwell.
Each Girl Scout council operates its own cookie sale. Approximately 70% of the proceeds stay in the local Girl Scout council to support Girl Scouting in that area, including a portion, approximately 15%, that goes directly to the group selling the cookies. The profits are divided by a formula, with local troops receiving about 10-15% of the retail price, the council more than 50%, and the manufacturer the remainder. In 1992 Girl Scouts sold 175 million boxes of cookies nationwide.
Revenues at all levels are used to pay for events and activities for the Girl Scouts, maintenance of the councils' Girl Scout camps and other properties, cookie sale incentives, and Council administrative costs.
Girl Scout cookies are made by large national commercial bakeries under license from Girl Scouts of the USA. The bakers licensed by the organization may change from year to year, though this is not common. In 2008 the licensed companies were Little Brownie Bakers (LBB), a subsidiary of Keebler, which is owned by Kellogg's; and ABC Bakers, a subsidiary of Interbake Foods, which is owned by George Weston Limited. ABC Bakers has been licensed to produce Girl Scout cookies since 1936.
Up to 28 varieties of Girl Scout cookies are offered. The same cookies may be sold under different names by different bakeries, with the choice of bakery determining the name. There has been no move to standardize names. The merger of many councils (from 312 to 109) following the August 2006 reorganization resulted in many councils changing bakeries, thus causing some confusion at that time.
The national Girl Scout organization reviews and approves all varieties proposed by the baking companies, but requires only three types: Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwiches (ABC)/Do-Si-Dos (LBB) and Shortbreads (ABC)/Trefoils (LBB). The other kinds can be changed every year, though several popular favorites, such as Caramel DeLites (ABC)/Samoas (LBB) and Peanut Butter Patties (ABC)/Tagalongs (LBB), are consistently available.
Girl Scout cookie varieties include:
|Thin Mints||Thin Mints||25%||Thin, mint-flavored chocolate wafers dipped in a chocolate coating|
|Caramel deLites||Samoas||19%||Vanilla cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut and laced with chocolate stripes.|
|Peanut Butter Patties||Tagalongs||13%||Crispy vanilla cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with a chocolate coating|
|Peanut Butter Sandwiches||Do-si-dos||16%||Peanut butter filling sandwiched between crunchy oatmeal cookies|
|Shortbreads||Trefoils||7%||A traditional shortbread cookie made in the shape of the Girl Scout trefoil|
|Thanks-A-Lot||6%||Shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate with a thank you message|
|Cranberry Citrus Crisps||4%||Whole-grain cookie with cranberry bits and citrus flavoring.|
|Lemonades||9%||Shortbread cookie with lemon icing|
|Savannah Smiles||Lemon wedge cookies dusted with powdered sugar|
|Rah-Rah Raisins||Hearty oatmeal cookies with plump raisins and Greek yogurt-flavored chunks.|
|Trios||Gluten free peanut butter oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips.|
|Toffee-tastic||Rich, buttery cookies packed with golden toffee bits bursting with flavor. Gluten-free. (pilot, not offered everywhere) |
- All Abouts: The LBB version of Thanks-A-Lot. Shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate with a message proclaiming values that Girl Scouts are "all about," such as Respect, Friendship, etc.
- Aloha Chips: Included white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
- Animal Treasures and All Abouts: Replaced by Thanks-A-Lot
- Apple Cinnamons: Apple shaped sugar cookies with cinnamon sugar.
- Cafe Cookies: Shortbread with a cinnamon topping.
- Cartwheels: Reduced fat oatmeal and cinnamon.
- Chocolate Chip Shortbread (ABC): Chocolate chips nestled in a bite-size, gluten free shortbread cookie.
- Cinna-Spins (LBB): Cinnamon-flavored cookies shaped like miniature cinnamon rolls that came in 100-calorie packs. Replaced by Daisy Go Rounds.
- Daisy Go Rounds (ABC): Cinnamon-flavored cookies shaped like daisies; replaced Cinna-spins for the 2009 sale; replaced with Shout Outs! in 2011.
- Double Dutch: Chocolate cookies with chocolate chips.
- Dulce de Leche: Cookies with milk caramel chips.
- Forget-Me-Nots: Granola cookie.
- Golden Yangles: Triangular cheddar crackers; sold in the 1980s.
- Iced Berry Pinatas: Sugar cookies with a berry jam center and icing.
- Juliettes/Golden Nut Clusters: Milk chocolate, caramel, and pecans.
- Kookaburras: Layers of wafers and caramel coated in milk chocolate.
- Lemon Chalet Cremes: Rectangular cinnamon sandwich cookies with lemon creme filling; changed to round cookies in 2010; replaced by Savannah Smiles in 2012.
- Lemon Coolers: Vanilla wafers with lemon zest, dusted with powdered sugar.
- Lemon Drops: Sugar cookie with lemon-flavored chips.
- Lemon Pastry Cremes: Light pastry cookie sandwich with lemon creme filling.
- Mango Cremes with NutriFusion: Vanilla and coconut cookies filled with a tangy mango-flavored creme enhanced with nutrients derived from fruits; replaced by Cranberry Citrus Crisps in 2013.
- Medallions: Introduced for 1983-1984 and celebrating 50 years of Girl Scout Cookies, 2 flavors: shortbread with cocoa coating on the bottom “Colonial Shortbread Supremes”, pecan shortbread with brown sugar coating (“Southern Pecan Praline”). Also listed at the Little Brownie Bakers' website under "cookie-history".
- Olé Olés: Powdered sugar cookies with pecans and coconut; sold from 2001 to 2003.
- Oxfords: Chocolate cookies with vanilla cream filling.
- Pinatas: Oatmeal cookie with fruit filling and topped with cinnamon and sugar glaze; introduced in 2004.
- Praline Royale: Soft vanilla cookie with a praline filling and striped with chocolate; introduced by ABC for the 1992-93 season.
- Savannahs: A peanut butter sandwich cookie.
- Scot-Teas (Burry): Shortbread cookies with sprinkled sugar.
- Shout Outs!: Belgian-style caramelized cookie
- Snaps: Iced oatmeal raisin.
- Strawberries & Creme: Sandwich cookie from ABC with a vanilla creme and a strawberry jam; available in mid-1990s.
- Striped Chocolate Chips: Chocolate chip cookies with fudge stripes.
- Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips: Small sugar- free cookies; discontinued in 2011.
- Sugar Free Chalet Cremes: Lemon pastry cream sweetened with aspartame.
- Thank You Berry Munch: Cookies with cranberries, rice crispies, and white fudge chips.
- Thanks A Lots: Chocolate filling between two vanilla cookies with "thank you" in different languages. Similar to an Oreo. These came before today's Thanks A Lots replaced animal treasures.
- Upside Down Frosted Oatmeal: Oatmeal cookies with frosting on the bottom. (http://www.oocities.org/troop1087/cookies.html)
- Van'chos: Vanilla and chocolate cremes.
Federal guidelines issued in early 2005 called for people to minimize their consumption of trans fat. Concerned parents urged the Girl Scouts to address this and other health concerns about the cookies, suggesting that the cookie program was at odds with the Girl Scouts' healthy living initiative. The Girl Scout organization replied that the cookies were a treat which "shouldn't be a big part of somebody's diet," and said that they are "encouraging" the companies that bake the cookies to find alternative oils.
In 2007, following reformulation of the recipes for a number of varieties, Girl Scouts of the USA announced that all their cookies had less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, allowing them to meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for "zero trans fat" labeling.
In September 2011, GSUSA released a new policy on palm oil in Girl Scout cookies to take effect from the 2012-13 cookie season. Amongst the pledges made, the GSUSA announced it will purchase GreenPalm certificates to support the sustainable production of palm oil. The certificates offer a premium price to palm oil producers who are operating within the guidelines for social and environmental responsibility set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
The 2011 policy was formed in response to a prolonged campaign by two Girl Scouts, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen. In 2007, as 11 year olds, Vorva and Tomtishen earned their Girl Scout Bronze Award by raising awareness about the endangered orangutan and their rapid diminishing rainforest habitat in Indonesia and Malaysia. When they discovered that the Girl Scout Cookies contained palm oil, an ingredient that results in rainforest destruction and human rights abuses, the two girls launched a variety of campaigns in order to convince the GSUSA to remove this ingredient from their cookies. Vorva and Tomtishen were awarded the UN Forest Heroes Award in 2011.
- Girl Guide Cookies, sold by Girl Guides of Canada
- Trail's End popcorn, sold by the Boy Scouts of America and Scouts Canada
- "The Girl Scout Cookie Program: America’s Leading Business and Economic Literacy Program for Girls". Girl Scouts of the USA. 2007.
- McEnery, Thornton; Gus Lubin (March 30, 2011). "How the Girl Scouts built a cookie empire". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- "The History of Girl Scout Cookies". http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/history.asp.
- Delfiner, Rita (January 24, 2009). "Scout Cookies on Diet". New York Post.
- Duncan, Argen (March 9, 2008). "Girl Scout Cookies Take on New Shape". El Defensor Chieftain.
- Abraham, Lisa (March 5, 2008). "Girl Scout Cookie Fans are Tasting a Difference". Akron Beacon Journal.
- Quinn, Christopher (March 13, 2008). "Girl Scout Cookies Bound for Troops Overseas". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- McConville, Christine (April 2, 2006). "Thin Mints can be Cheaper by the Troop". The Boston Globe. p. 14.
- "Girl Scout Cookies FAQs". Girl Scouts of the USA.
- Graham, Ellen (May 13, 1993). "Bureaucracy Eats Girl Scout Cookie Profits— Some Volunteers Complain That Troops Get Only Crumbs". The Seattle Times. The Wall Street Journal.
- Rooney, Andy (March 26, 2007). "Deconstructing The Girl Scout Cookie: Andy Rooney Tackles A Tasty Task". 60 Minutes.
- Pritchard, Catherine (February 29, 2008). "Only Two Places Make Girl Scout cookies". The Fayetteville Observer.
- "Interbake Foods corporate website". Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Sinclair, Andrew (March 15, 2003). "Samoas v. Caramel deLites".
- "Girl Scout Cookies With Charlene Meidlinger, Assistant Executive Director, Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital". The Washington Post. February 22, 2002.
- Kroll, John (January 3, 2008). "Some Girl Scout Cookies Change Their Names, but the Flavor's the Same".
- "Cookies". ABC Smart Cookies.
- "Cookies". Little Brownie Bakers.
- "Girl Scout Cookie Nutrition Info". Girl Scouts of the USA.
- Weston, Nicole (January 22, 2007). "The Best Retired Girl Scout Cookies". SlashFood.
- "Scouts To Start Cookie Sales". Orlando Sun-Sentinel. January 18, 1996.
- "Girl Scout Cookies Are Here". The Munday Courier. February 26, 1981.
- "Eat Lots of Girl Scout Cookies? Be Prepared to Gain Weight". Scout News. 2005.
- "Statement from GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger: Girl Scout Cookies Now Have Zero Trans Fats; Still Recommends Moderation for All Treats". Girl Scouts of the USA (Press release). November 13, 2006.
- "Girl Scouts Pledge to Promote the Need for Sustainable Palm Oil Practices" (Press release). GSUSA. 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "Forest Heroes Awards". Retrieved 2012-07-07.
- "Girl Scout Cookies". Girl Scouts of the USA.