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Make a Girl Scout Happy

February 23, 2012

Did you know that Girl Scout Cookie time is different depending on where you live? I’ve already had someone come to my door looking to sell me boxes and boxes of cookies. That means that if you work in an office, you’ve probably already seen the form posted by the microwave in the company kitchen as some parent tries to leverage their job to sell more cookies for their daughter.

I’ve always found that to be cheating.

Here in Northeastern New York, orders for Girl Scout Cookies began on Monday, January 9 with a promised delivery of right around now. But do not fear should you have missed the pre-ordering period. Starting March 10 there will be booth sales all around the region. Most notably the girls will be at Colonie Center and Crossgates, as well as a host of other locations.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Girl Scout Cookies can be found here.

Well, almost everything. They will not tell you that all the cookies are not created equal. And they won’t tell you which ones you should buy if you really want to do a good deed.

That’s what I’m here for.

In all honesty I stopped buying Girl Scout Cookies many years ago. Some of this was based on their use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Some of it was based on the high fructose corn syrup. Some of it was based on leveraging an army of girls to sell this dreck to Americans who really didn’t need to have more cookies in their lives.

If you bring cookies into the house, you are going to eat them. It’s a simple logic. And I really didn’t need to be eating more cookies, so I just skipped out on the whole affair.

Cookies are easy to make at home, and they should be a decadent treat. When I decide I’m going to eat a cookie, dammit, it’s going to be a great cookie made with real butter and eggs.

But unless I’m eating a snickerdoodle, I’m one of those rare people who prefers cookies to be crisp. So packaged cookies have the potential for being quite satisfying. Those Walker’s shortbreads, for example, have long been one of my favorite treats, although it’s been a long long time since I’ve indulged in those sweet butter sticks.

That aside, there are some people who buy Girl Scout Cookies because they truly like them, and there are others who are doing it simply to support the local troops.

Things like Thin Mints and Samoas (aka Caramel deLites) have their rabid fans.

Growing up, my parents always loved the Thin Mints and would stock up on them every year. They would go immediately into the freezer, and the cold extra crisp cookie would just enhance the cooling sensation of the mint. I assume everyone does this, because it’s simply brilliant.

The problem is that all of these cookies continue to have junk in them. To be fair, the Girl Scouts have gotten better. The cookies now only use trace amounts of partially hydrogenated oils so that they can round down to zero when asked about grams of trans fat per serving.

That is, all except for one.

This year there is a better cookie with a marketing problem. Okay, two marketing problems. First, they are called Shout Outs! And that’s just lame. They do have encouraging embossed words on them like “Inspire” and “Believe.” But for some reason, when promoting the cookie, they decided to feature the word that is also a heavy metal, which contaminates many foods and is detrimental to childhood brain development.

I suppose it could also be intended to mean, “to guide someone or something along a way.” But really the Girl Scouts should have chosen a less ambiguous word. Surely there is no lead in the cookies with those four letters on the top. Nor will eating them turn you into a leader.

However, Shout Outs! contain no high fructose corn syrup nor do they contain any partially hydrogenated oils. They are also crisp and delicious spiced Belgian-style caramelized cookies. But calling attention to this fact just reminds people that all the rest of the cookies are filled with dreck. Seriously, the Shout Outs! don’t even contain any natural or artificial flavors. I can’t say the same thing about Thin Mints or Samoas. Some cookies are also filled with artificial colors, but Shout Outs! are free of those too.

Not only are these the best cookies on the table, buying several boxes of these may make you the patron saint of your local Girl Scout Troop. Because of their marketing problem, these cookies are the poorest sellers of the bunch. And my understanding is that if a box of cookies is on a troop’s table it’s theirs. They either have to sell it or take it as a loss.

It just goes to show how difficult it can be to shake people from their habitual purchase patterns.

Don’t let me convince you to buy cookies you wouldn’t buy otherwise. But if you are buying Girl Scout Cookies just to be nice, buy the Shout Outs! They may not bring you back to your childhood, but they may be the only cookies in the line that you’ll want your own kid to eat.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2012 12:00 pm

    I second your desire for crisp cookies.

  2. -R. permalink
    February 23, 2012 2:13 pm

    I would never buy Girl Scout cookies, as every one I have ever tasted has been repulsive. I am also not particularly nice, and hence can’t be made to feel guilty about not purchasing them “for the cause”. Nice try though.

  3. February 23, 2012 2:29 pm

    Yes, in my house we put the Thin Mints in the freezer too.

    On the other hand, if you line up 100 people and ask how many saw the name of a heavy metal stamped onto a Girl Scout cookie, I suspect you will be the only one…

  4. February 23, 2012 2:58 pm

    Hey, thanks for the insider info — I was wondering when we’d be seeing girls in the malls selling cookies! (I compromised — I wanted to order a ton of ’em, but instead, I said I’d only buy some if I saw the girls at the mall.)

  5. Kate H permalink
    February 23, 2012 7:29 pm

    There will be a table in my building’s lobby next week and for the first time I’ll stop and pick up a box, but only if they have Shout Outs! We always have from scratch cookies in the house so buying them has never been on my agenda.

  6. February 24, 2012 12:13 am

    People love thin mints. I tabulated the cookies my daughters sold this year.

    http://joninalbanyblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/extrememly-scientific-girl-scout.html

    Thin mints won in a landslide. Shout Outs were not being offered. I’ve never heard of them.

  7. Tess permalink
    February 24, 2012 9:05 pm

    When I worked at Camp Little Notch (West Fort Ann, NY), we got all the unsold cookies to serve as dessert. I still have a soft spot for Trefoils!

    Oh, and for everyone who was worried when the GS sold Little Notch – it is now being run by a non-profit group consisting of ex-staff and ex-campers…and the best part is that CLN will be open for girls again this summer! You can download the brochure at http://www.friendsofcln.org/.

    Thin mints. Freezer. Genius!

  8. Mirdreams permalink
    February 25, 2012 1:04 am

    The best thing to do during cookie season is to just go their headquarters and buy all the boxes you want, save you having to track down an actual girl scout. I give them as client gifts to my Aussie clients, they repay me with real Timtams. Quintessential national cookies.

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