Girl Scout cookies

From Academic Kids

A Girl Scout cookie is one of several varieties of cookie sold on neighborhood tours by Girl Scouts as a fundraiser for their organization.

In 1922, the Girl Scout magazine The American Girl suggested cookie sales as a fundraiser and provided recipes. In the 1920s and 1930s the cookies were actually baked by Girl Scouts and their families; in 1936 the national organization began licensing commercial bakers to produce them.

Girl Scouts sell to their own relatives. Traditionally, they then walk around the neighborhood and town to visit people's houses, taking orders for number of boxes of each cookie type (Thin Mints, Samoas, etc.) desired by each house and the amount the total order of each customer will cost on a paper chart. Parents also sell to co-workers in the workplace. (In recent years, due to safety concerns, the emphasis is shifting toward sales from tables in well-frequented public areas, under the supervision of adult troop leaders).

As an incentive to sell, Scouts are offered prizes (stuffed animals, trinkets, coupons, etc.) of successively higher value for the number of boxes they sell. The accumulation of prizes is cumulative, so that a girl who has won the prize for selling 100 boxes of cookies will still also get the 75-box prize, the 50-box prize, the 25-box prize, the 20-box prize, the 15-box prize and the 10-box prize.

Exact details vary, but the individual troop selling the cookies typically receives about $0.60 per box.

The typical package of Girl Scout cookies costs more and contains a smaller quantity of product than a seemingly comparable package of supermarket cookies. However, according to the Girl Scouts, the cookies are priced at fair market value; and therefore, a purchaser who "keeps the cookies" rather than "leaving them with the Girl Scouts" may not claim any portion of the cost as a charitable donation under U. S. tax laws.

Varieties of Girl Scout Cookie

Girl Scout cookies are made by large national commercial bakeries under license from Girl Scouts of the USA. The bakers that the organization licenses change from year to year; as of 2005 they are ABC/Interbake Foods and Little Brownie Bakers. Licensed bakers can offer up to eight varieties of Girl Scout cookies. The national Girl Scout organization reviews and approves all varieties proposed by the bakers, but requires only three types: Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos and Shortbread/Trefoils. The other kinds can be changed every year. Each bakery names its own cookies. Thus the exact kinds, names, and composition of the cookies varies. Some examples of Girl Scout cookie varieties include:

Thin Mint: The most enduring and universally familiar Girl Scout Cookie of them all. These round, mint-flavored cookies covered with dark chocolate perennially sell the most boxes of any cookie. Thin Mints have never changed their name.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches or Do-si-dos: These sandwich cookies feature peanut butter filling between oatmeal cookies.

Trefoils or Classic Shortbread: These shortbread cookies are shaped like the Girl Scout Trefoil design.

Hoedowns, Tagalongs, or Peanut Butter Patties: These round cookies with a cookie center are covered with chocolate, having under their swollen chocolate surface an inner layer of peanut butter, much like the marshmallow under the chocolate surface in Mallomars.

Samoas or Caramel deLites: These consist of a circular vanilla cookie about 2" in diameter with a small hole in the center, covered in caramel and toasted coconut and then striped with chocolate. (The name is a takeoff on S'Mores, a traditional campfire dessert made by melting chocolate bars and marshmallows between two Graham crackers).

Savannahs: A sandwich cookie. The round, bumpy perforated cookie top and bottom surround what seems to be a maple-flavored layer inside. Probably named after Savannah, Georgia, where founder Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting in 1912.

Golden Yangles: The only Girl Scout cookie without an element of sugar in them. These yellow, triangular cookies taste more like cheese puffs than traditional cookies. They are a favorite among diabetic and dieting Girl Scout cookie customers.

As of 2004, the best selling Girl Scout cookies are:

  • Thin Mints (25% of total sales)
  • Samoas/Caramel deLites (19%)
  • Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs 13%
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos 11%
  • Shortbread/Trefoils 9%

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As of 2005, Girl Scout cookies, like many other commercially baked cookies, contain trans fat—one gram per serving in the case of Thin Mints. Federal guidelines issued in early 2005 call for people to minimize their consumption of trans fat, which is now widely regarded as unhealthy for the heart. Concerned parents have urged the Girl Scouts to address this and other health concerns about the cookies, suggesting that the cookie program is at odds with the Girl Scouts' forthcoming "healthy living" initiative. The Girl Scout organization has replied that the cookies are a treat which "shouldn't be a big part of somebody's diet," and say that they are "encouraging" the companies that bake the cookies to find alternative oils.

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