Just in time to spoil your New Year’s Resolution, badge-covered vest wearing Girl Scouts arrive at your door with their brilliant fundraising idea — cookies. Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs: You know you can’t resist.
If you haven’t placed your order yet this year, better hurry. More than 2.6 million Girl Scouts in the United States will be turning in their cookie orders soon. And while you’re looking forward to receiving your cookies sometime in weeks that follow, its also worth reflecting on the storied past of these iconic cookies.
The entrepreneurial cookie initiative dates back a whole lot further than you might expect. So listen up and earn your merit badge for the day with these 10 facts about Girl Scout cookies.
1. Home baked business
In 1917, just five years after Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma decided to sell cookies in their high school cafeteria to raise money for their club’s activities. In the years that followed, Girls Scouts all around the country, with the help of their mothers, began baking their own sugar cookies and selling them to raise money for their activities. In 1922, a scout director from Chicago, gave the girls a recipe to use that would cost them 26 to 36 cents and would yield up to seven dozen cookies. (See recipe below)
2. You can make the original cookie recipe at home
If you would like to try your hand at making an original Girl Scout sugar cookie, check out this recipe from 1922, courtesy GirlScouts.org.
Original Girl Scout Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- Additional sugar for topping (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
Bake at 375º for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six to seven dozen cookies.
3. The first cookie sale
The first official Girl Scout Cookie sale season took place in Philadelphia in 1933. Back then, you could buy a box for just $0.23!
4. Commercial bakers come on the scene
It wasn’t until 1936 that Girl Scouts licensed a commercial bakery to help meet demand of their growing enterprise.
5. World war II missed out
Butter, sugar, and flour rationing in wartime meant that Girl Scouts needed an alternative fundraising method. From 1941 to 1945 the girls sold calendars instead of cookies. Afterward, the flourishing suburbs and shopping malls of the 50s and 60s saw cookie sales soar.
6. Flavors Grew in the 1950s
In 1951, Girl Scouts came in three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread, and Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints). Five years later two or three other sandwich cookie flavors were available (depending on where you lived).
7. It’s big business
Girl Scouts is the largest leadership organization for girls in the world, and it has the fundraising program to match. Girl Scouts sell more than 200 million boxes of cookies every year — that’s $800 million worth of cookies.
8. Thin Mints are the best seller
Thin Mints might be one of the oldest cookies still on the roster, but for a good reason. According to a 2011 survey on the Girl Scouts website, Thin Mints make up 25% of cookie sales. Samoas follow with 19%, then Tagalongs (13%), Do-si-Dos (11%) and Trefoils (9%). During peak bake season, Girl Scout cookie producers make more than 4.5 million Thin Mints every day!
9. The ‘Cookie Queen’
Elizabeth Brinton holds the record for selling the most boxes of cookies. She sold a whopping 100,000 boxes from 1978 to 1990 — a feat that still hasn’t been replicated. The “Cookie Queen” famously sold to Ronald Reagan and Sandra Day O’Connor.
10. Cookie Graveyard
After more than 100 years of cookie sales, it’s clear the project is an enormous success. However, because of low sales, a number of cookies are no longer with us. Rest in peace Golden Nut Custers, Dulce de Leche, and Mango Cremes, to name a few.
Also see, Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints to love.
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