Like clockwork, you can count on seeing Girl Scouts and their famous cookies this time of year. Whether your coworker is selling for their child or you see them in front of the grocery store, Girl Scout cookies are a staple of American culture. For more than 100 years the Girl Scouts have made the yearly iconic cookie sale a success, all the while having fun and developing life skills.
The first inkling of this great tradition started around 1917 just 5 years after the start of the organization. The Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma baked cookies and sold them in the local high school cafeteria as a service project.
By 1922, special recipes were being shared for the various troops to use. The cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker and sold door to door for a whopping 25-35 cents per dozen!
Over the next 2 decades, marketing and business took over and the Girl Scouts were soon selling commercially baked cookies. Soon after, they were labeled as ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ and the iconic trefoil shape was solidified. After the war, cookie sales picked up and some 14 bakers became licensed to help in the effort.
The 1950’s saw the expansion from 1 variety to 3 (Sandwich, Shortbread and Chocolate Mint, now known as Thin Mint). And with the growth of shopping malls, the girls had yet another avenue to sell the delicious bites.
During the 1960’s, cookie sales increased dramatically and the licensed bakers began wrapping the boxes in printed aluminum foil or cellophane to protect freshness. The Chocolate Mint (i.e. Thin Mint) variety was a clear favorite along with Shortbread and Peanut Butter Sandwich.
In the late 70’s, the number of bakers was streamlined to four to ensure quality, cost and uniformity in packaging and distribution. For the first time, all boxes featured the same design. And in the early 1980’s, the cookie names were solidified to what we know today—Thin Mint, Do-si-dos (i.e. Peanut Butter Sandwich) and Trefoils (i.e. Shortbread). They also expanded their inventory options to include four other flavors. Finally, in the late 1990’s eight varieties were available, including low-fat and sugar-free selections.
Since 2000, Girl Scout cookies have continued to become a financial engine for the organization as they moved to selling them digitally rather than door to door. Girl Scout Cookie Weekend was established and gluten-free varieties were introduced. The latest tasty treat to be delivered was in 2017 and paid homage to smores by the campfire.
As packaging continues to morph and sales continue to expand, it is no wonder that The Girl Scouts of America get much due credit in helping to teach our young women many life skills they would not otherwise be exposed to. With only 2 officially licensed bakers now (Little Brownie and ABC), Americans are excited to enjoy the flavorful goodness and share opinions on their favorite. Early Spring just would not be the same without it!