Do You Know the History Behind These Famous Cookies?
Across the country, you will find them-in front of the supermarket, at the convenience store, in front of the post office, and even knocking on your door. Adorable little Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts with gap toothed smiles, tween age Juniors and Cadettes having fun, and even older Senior scouts who have years of sales experience will be asking the age old question,
Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?
Many will buy a box or two or Thin Mints and Samoas, while others will turn a deaf ear and keep their eyes peeled straight ahead. A few nasty people will complain to the girls about the price and how they used to cost fifty cents a box (as if the six year old has any control over pricing) and how they are being harassed.
Photo by Hannah Gold
There is a lot more to cookie program than simply selling them. Badges are earned before and during the sales-badges the girls proudly wear on their uniform. Before the official cookie sales, troop leaders and their girls discuss their goals and what to do with the money they earn. Some troops want to use the money for a bunch of field trips, others to attend workshops, and older troops save money for longer trips that require travel by plane or train.
There are five key skills behind selling Girl Scout cookies:
- Goal Setting
- Decision Making
- Money Management
- People Skills
- Business Ethics
Leaders spend troop meeting time teaching girls how to sell, how to be polite to all customers (regardless of how they act towards them), and how to make correct change. The latest Girl Scout cookie craze is to “bling your booth”, i.e., making creative and eye catching displays that will get the attention of potential customers who walk by. Service units have contests to see who has the most colorful and unique booth. These competitions spark a lot of creativity within a Council.
For those who cannot get enough of their yearly fix of Peanut Butter Patties and Do-si-dos, here are some fun facts about the cookies that people look forward to eating year after year.
1. In the beginning, Girl Scouts used to bake their own cookies to sell.
Almost 100 years ago, Girl Scouts wanted to raise money for activities. In 1917, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee Oklahoma created a community service project to bake and sell homemade cookies in their school cafeteria. Five years later, an official cookie recipe was printed in the Girl Scout magazine for all troops to use. This recipe can be found on the Girl Scouts of the USA website. Making these to serve at your troop cookie meetings is a great way to launch your cookie sales!
2. Some Types of Cookies Have Two Names
In different parts of the country, you can find different names for the same cookies.
Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs
Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwiches
The reason for the difference in names is that the cookies come from two different bakeries, which sell their cookies in different parts of the country. Councils decide which baker to use, either Little Brownie Bakers or ABC Bakers. 
Photo by Hannah Gold
3. There are mandatory Girl Scout cookies that must be produced and sold each year.
Over the years, there have been many different kinds of cookie flavors introduced to the public. Some have stayed and some have disappeared, but three flavors must be produced and sold. They are Thin Mints, peanut butter sandwiches and shortbreads. 
4. Girl Scout cookies are certified kosher.
This means that Jews who observe the dietary laws of kashrut can also enjoy their fair share of cookies, too!
5. Troop leaders decide two months in advance how many cookies to order.
At this leader meeting, the decision on how many of each box to buy for an initial order is taken. Orders are based on percentages and popularity, with Thin Mints being the top seller.
Any boxes the troop orders belongs to the troop-no give backs. They have to sell them or they have to eat the profits.
6. Many Councils have programs that collect cookies for military personnel overseas, called "The Gift of Caring".
Other councils have called it “Operation Cookie Drop“. Either way, this is a fantastic way to give back to those who protect and serve while raising funds for individual troops.
Leaders must contact their Council’s cookie coordinator to find out the specifics for their local program.
If your Council is participating, this is a great selling tool for customers who do not want to buy a box for themselves. They can purchase one or more for the soldiers!
By U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Lesley Lykins [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
7. The Girl Scouts of the USA do not publicly recognize which troop sold the most cookies and which scout sold the most.
It is not a competition. Local Councils, like mine, do recognize the top cookie seller at the last leader meeting of the year.
Leaders cannot set minimum requirements for selling cookies, and whatever money is raised by the troop is divided equally among the girls. It does not matter If one girl sold 20 boxes and one sold 200. The money belongs to the troop, not the individual child.
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The next time you see those adorable youngsters selling Girl Scout cookies, know that they are not just doing it for the incentives offered by their local Council or for a big trip to go horseback riding or to Europe. Girls are learning a lot about life.
What are you going to teach them when you walk on by?