By Terry Rogers
Starting this past weekend, Girl Scouts began delivering pre-ordered cookies and setting up cookie booths at local businesses for the Annual Girl Scout Cookie Sale. The attraction of Thin Mints, Samoas and Tag-a-Longs draw many people to order ahead or purchase the cookies at booths, but Girl Scout leaders and parents say that the cookies have a more important mission.
“Cookie sales teach the girls many skills they will need throughout life,” Veronica Hoffman, Service Cookie Booth Coordinator for Service Unit 11, said. “They learn to set goals, make decisions and manage money through the cookie sales. In addition, girls develop better people skills as well as business ethics as they sell cookies.” Ms. Hoffman is a Cadette Troop Leader in a troop that includes six 6th grade and four 7th grade girls.
Maggie Thompson, who has agreed to become the treasurer for Troop 1403 after her daughter joined a few months ago, said that Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. “We want our Daisies to feel like they are running a business,” Ms. Thompson said. “Of course, their parents are there to assist, however, we encourage the girls to talk with friends, family members and neighbors to buy cookies to support our troop. The Girl Scout is responsible, along with mom and dad, to make the deliveries and manage the money. This gives them an entrepreneur opportunity in running a business.”
This marks the 100th year of Girl Scout Cookie Sales which began in 1917 as a way to finance troop activities. The original cookie sales began with the Mistletoe Troop of Muskogee, Oklahoma, when members baked and sold cookies in a high school cafeteria as a service project. In 1922, American Girl magazine, which was published by the Girl Scouts of USA, featured an article by Florence E. Neil that included a recipe that had been given to her council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. It was her estimation that the cookies would cost no more than $0.36 per seven dozen to bake, but could be sold by troops for $0.25 to $0.30 per dozen. The cookies were simple sugar cookies, packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker and sold door-to-door.
By 1933, Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia were baking cookies and selling them at gas and electric company windows for $0.23 for a box of 44 cookies or six boxes for $1.24. The girls created their own marketing plan and were so successful, the council took cookie sales to the next level, becoming the first council to sell commercially baked cookies. The Girl Scout Federation of New York created and purchased its own die in the shape of a trefoil and was the first council to use the word “Girl Scouts” on the box. During World War II, the Girl Scouts stopped selling cookies due to sugar, flour and butter shortages, but the sales returned in 1948.
By 1951, the girls were selling three flavors of cookies, including sandwich, the traditional shortbread and chocolate mints, which eventually became the famous Thin Mints that are so popular today. The sandwich cookie evolved into a vanilla-based and a chocolate-based filled cookie by 1956. Today, there are 12 different flavors of cookies. This year, two S’mores flavored cookies were added in addition to two gluten-free options, Toffee-tastic and Trios.
The amount that local troops make on each box sold is based on a tiered approached based on their per girl average. Ms. Hoffman said that the average amount retained at the troop level is $0.89 per box. “Each troop allocates what and how they want to use their cookie money,” Ms. Hoffman said. “Some may donate to shelters for pets or humans, others use it to fund service projects for high honors awards.” Troop 1403 plans to take a trip to Venderwende’s Ice Cream for an ice cream party to celebrate their first successful cookie season and has also set goals to help animals through a service project.
Ms. Thompson said that the best part is that the troop goals were set by the scouts, who are mostly ages five and six with the help of the troop leader. “I was a Brownie as a kid and I loved it,” Ms. Thompson said. “I have so many amazing memories with my sister girl scouts. I am so proud of these girls and what they have already accomplished.”
One new addition to the cookie sales is the ability to order cookies online and credit a particular troop or scout with the sale. Girl scouts register online and are able to provide a special link to family and friends so that they can order cookies. Known as Digital Cookie, the online sales allow people to order cookies and have them shipped within the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
“Girl Scouts as a whole teaches the girls social skills, they also learn a sense of pride by belonging in a great organization,” Ms. Hoffman said. “The Girl Scout Cookie Program is more than a fundraiser. It’s a fun way for girls to earn money to realize their dreams and it’s a hands-on leadership and financial literacy program unlike any other in the world. The knowledge and skills learned serves them for a lifetime. Girls gain essential skills, not from a book, but from real-life experiences building a strong foundation for success.”
Girls interested in joining a troop can be connected to local scouts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 800-341-4007.
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