Girl Scout Season

It’s Girl Scout-cookie season again, which traditionally begins right after deer season, and is followed by Lent.

This is the time of year when words like “Samoas,” “Shortbread Trefoils,” “Do-si-dos,” and “Tagalongs” become household names. A season when many of us transition to wearing sweatpants full-time because we love cookies.

I miss seeing Girl Scouts selling cookies in neighborhoods and supermarkets. A pandemic put a stop to these things, and it’s a shame because I always purchase mass amounts.

Some years ago, two Girl Scout Daisies (kindergarten-age recruits) visited my porch selling cookies. If you’ve never met a Daisy, make it your objective to do so. You will die from cuteness overload.

I told the Daisies that I wanted to buy 100 boxes. I was joking, of course, but they didn’t realize this.

One of the girls had to be revived with cold water. Her friend shouted, “Ohmygosh! Mom! A hundred boxes!”

Whereupon the girl’s mother (this is true) said: “That means we win a pink Cadillac!”

The reason I regularly order cookies is not only because they’re delicious, but because I believe in these girls. I believe in their values. I believe in their organization. I believe in refined sugar.

My grandmother was a Girl Scout in the early 1920s. My mother was a Girl Scout. My wife was a Girl Scout Brownie—which is the same as a regular Scout, except they don’t file income taxes.

The Girl Scouts represent one of the finest institutions this country has ever produced, and that’s not an opinion. Take, for example, troop leader Miss Emma Hall.

In 1913, during an era of flagrant racism, Miss Emma’s “Red Rose Troop,” in New Bedford, Massachusetts, was welcoming African-American Girl Scouts into its group. And keep in mind, this was happening seven years before American women had the right to vote; and 50 years before public schools would be integrated.

I’m telling you, these girls are cool.

I first fell in love with the Girl Scouts when I had a gig writing for a small publication in Savannah, Georgia. My assignment was to cover local history.

One day I was interviewing a local historian in a coffee shop when this historian said, “Have you ever visited the Juliette Gordon Low house?”

“The what house?” I said.

In a few minutes this historian had whisked me across town to Oglethorpe Avenue for an impromptu tour of the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts. And I was overwhelmed.

The more I learned about these Scouts, the more I liked them. This organization did more than introduce values of inclusion and self-confidence during an era when women were trivialized. These Scouts also introduced our nation to perhaps the most cherished American pastime ever established.

I am, of course, referring to Thin Mints®.

The first Girl Scout cookies trace their origins back to 1917, a year fraught with heartache and violence. There was a World War on. Twenty million men were dying overseas. Newspapers were reporting rumors of a possible Spanish Flu epidemic on the horizon.

A few girls from the “Mistletoe Troop” in Muskogee, Oklahoma, started baking and selling cookies in a high-school cafeteria to raise money to send gifts to troops. These soldiers would have been the girls’ brothers, uncles, and fathers.

The cookies were an instant hit. They became so popular that by the 1920s, Girl Scouts all over the nation were using the same simple sugar cookie recipe to raise money.

Back then, the cost of ingredients was about 25 cents per each seven dozen cookies. The girls would bake several batches in one afternoon, often on woodstoves, making serious attempts to burn down their homes without parental supervision. They would turn around and sell these cookies at 35 cents per dozen.

In other words, they were raking it in, hand over merit badge.

By the ‘30s about 127 Girl Scout councils in America were holding cookie sales. By the 1950s, Girl Scout cookies were a national thing, baked in commercial bakeries and delivered door-to-door by hand. By the ‘60s all Americans, no matter what their creed, shape, or denomination, had the God given opportunity to eat these sacred cookies and gain serious adipose tissue.

I don’t have to tell you that the Scouts are still going strong today. Currently there are about 2.5 million Girl Scouts in 92 countries. In an average cookie-year, 1.7 million girl members raise about $800 million dollars.

The remarkable thing about this is that one hundred percent of the money that’s raised stays within local councils and troops, which makes the Girl Scouts of America a very uniquely run organization. Especially when compared to, say, televangelism.

And so, amidst this pandemic, I wanted to remind everyone that the Scouts are still open for business. The selling methods are different, the girls are using socially distant ways to keep customers safe. But the idea is the same.

I am writing this because I believe in these kids. I admire what they stand for, I love what they do. And I want them to know that I support them. In fact, I just ordered my annual cookies online because, let it be stated here, my household supports our local troops.

During this COVID era, each one of these young women deserves to know that they, like their predecessors, have made my life infinitely more sunny. Not just because of their cookies, but because in this troubled world, these girls are brave enough to call themselves Scouts.

50 comments

  1. Sandi. - February 7, 2021 6:48 am

    I actually have a small sign taped inside the window beside my front door that reads: “No soliciting unless you’re selling Thin Mint cookies.”
    When I was a Girl Scout they sold for 50 cents a box. A friend of my parents bought six boxes from me, and I was absolutely thrilled when he handed me three crisp one dollar bills. Last Febraury the same cookies cost $4 per box, and they are very addictive.

    Reply
  2. Eileen - February 7, 2021 7:25 am

    Great organization. I was one of those Girl Scouts selling door-to-door in the 1960s. Still support the cookie sales! Freezer sweets for an entire year…

    Reply
  3. Margaret E Odell - February 7, 2021 8:31 am

    And the new Toast-Yay cookies are amazing!!! Girl Scouts rock. Thanks for your support.🥰🥰🥰

    Reply
  4. Lynn Duncan - February 7, 2021 12:10 pm

    As a former Girl Scout, 13-year Girl Scout leader, and life long GS cookie lover, thank you for recognizing the amazing work of the Girl Scouts.

    Reply
  5. Bill - February 7, 2021 12:14 pm

    Love the Thin Mints…yeah..

    Did you order another 100 boxes again, Sean?

    Reply
  6. Robert Chiles - February 7, 2021 12:22 pm

    Got four boxes just yesterday

    Reply
  7. joan moore - February 7, 2021 12:24 pm

    Sean, I sold Girl Scouts in the Sixties and Seventies, which was a lot of cookies to keep in the house in cartons that made our house looks like an igloo of brown cartons!.Mother was our Scout leader and we could sell them at school by the car trunk full for 50 cents a box! There were only two kinds in the early Sixties, Thin mints and Assorted. But it taught us how to deal with people and how to count and make change in the gym or yes, even in the lunchroom! Teachers and coaches would always be counted on for big orders and I don’t think we ever had enough for the whole population of my town. Those were great days for this little Brownie, and I will cherish them forever.

    Reply
  8. Robin George - February 7, 2021 12:47 pm

    I was a Scout proudly, as were my sisters growing up, it was only time I ever ‘cooked out’ ! S’mores were heavenly!
    Both my daughters followed in Scouting, from Daisys all the way though high school, not quite to Gold though. I myself co-led their troops for 6 years.
    The Scouts is the BEST organization for young women, teaching value driven activities and actions, self worth and resiliency, confidence in themselves and trust in their peers.
    I am proud to have given to the Scouts and fully intend on finding some cookies!!! ❤️

    Reply
  9. Mary Bales - February 7, 2021 12:56 pm

    Girl Scouts was part of my life from second grade into college. With my troop, I learned leadership, how to work with others, how to fly an airplane, give basic first aid, sing with joy at a campfire (and, let’s face it, everywhere else, too), help the elderly, lead in local government, appreciate and support my country, and to give back to my community. Buy those cookies!

    Reply
  10. Barb - February 7, 2021 1:04 pm

    Ditto! I am a Realtor and I buy lots and lots of cookies to give as client gifts. (Sometimes the clients even receive them….😉)

    Reply
  11. rhonda - February 7, 2021 1:16 pm

    The girl scouts certainly are wonderful, cookies and all! We live a rocks throw from camp Juliette Lowe on Look Out mountain in Mentone. The mountain boost of over 20 wonderful youth camps. But we have a special place for the girls. When Granny Lou passed away the family still had a “chunk” of land in middle Georgia. She left a large acreage to the scouts to establish Camp Louisa outside of Meansville. I called several years ago to say Hello and I think they may have changed the name. No-one answered my call. I don’t care what they call it , I just hope they are baking cookies!

    Reply
  12. Joey - February 7, 2021 1:31 pm

    I remember selling GS cookies for 35 cents a box! That makes me a dinosaur!

    Reply
    • Sylvia Hutton - February 9, 2021 12:06 am

      I am a life member. Joined Brownies in 1953, when that was the youngest level. Loved selling cookies at 35 cents a box. Earned my Curved Bar. In high school, we sold tons on fraternity row! Loved going to summer camp, then being a CIT, then camp counselor for 2 summers. Served as troop leader for my 2 daughters. Sang camp songs to my babies and grands. Looking forward to my 67th year of eating Girl Scout cookies!

      Reply
  13. David - February 7, 2021 1:54 pm

    Thank you! You inspired me. I have not bought girl scout cookies in years. But I did not know that the money stays within the organization. Knowing that makes a difference. I still don’t want to cookies, but there is a troop in New York City started by a homeless girl I donated to a few years ago based on an article I read. Because of your column, I’m going to donate again this year.
    Again, thanks— not just for your outstanding writing but your ability to consistently inspire and make genuine positive change in this world.

    Reply
  14. Melanie - February 7, 2021 1:59 pm

    💚💚💚💚Girl Scouts and the wonderful moms who are Troop leaders 💚💚💚💚

    Reply
  15. Till - February 7, 2021 2:31 pm

    Our daughter passed away at age 34, but back when she was a Girl Scout selling cookies door to door ,she came home just bursting with excitement! Seems some lady in the neighborhood bought what seemed like a bazillion cookies! At least from her reaction it seemed like that! I didn’t know this lady, but one day recently, around 45 years later, I was on my walk and this lady was in her yard….I asked if she had lived in this house long, and she had, so I told her this story, and I think we both got a little teary! That is why you buy those cookies! So easy to make someone’s day,

    Reply
  16. Rich Owen - February 7, 2021 2:46 pm

    I agree it is a great organization. But with the current minority rage these days, I am waiting for some “trangender” boy to break through the glass ceiling.

    Reply
    • Beverly Wynn Bua - February 7, 2021 5:28 pm

      Unnecessary comment on an otherwise lovely story commended the Girl Scouts of America,

      Reply
    • Michelle - February 7, 2021 8:04 pm

      Girl Scouts welcome any member who identifies as a girl. Have done for years.

      Reply
  17. Ronnie Thomas - February 7, 2021 2:58 pm

    I wanted to share that Girl Scout Troop 6000 in NYC supports girls in homeless shelters – they have an on-line way to buy your cookies and help them keep the troop, and girls, move forward!
    I was a Girl Scout and think it’s imperative to afford these girls the opportunity to grow in the GS system..

    Reply
  18. Bob Brenner - February 7, 2021 3:49 pm

    Great organization! thanks for all you do …

    Reply
  19. Claudia Reich - February 7, 2021 4:10 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful words! I grew up in Rhode Island, my girls in Alabama and now in Iowa, being GirlScouts throughout that time. Have been on staff with my local council for almost 18 years and been an adult scout for 45 years and do believe strongly with the values that are girls learn!

    Reply
  20. Lifetime Chicago - February 7, 2021 5:09 pm

    I have been a writer for many years and have been in education all my life. A friend of mine shared your column with me a few months ago and I have to say that you are one of the few writers where after I read the first paragraph, I have to finish the entire story…no matter what time of day or how I feel. You also give me great ideas to share with my own readers. Thank you for being a real inspiration to the young, old and restless!!!

    Reply
  21. Lee Jones Hackett - February 7, 2021 5:15 pm

    Superb ! I, too, sold Girl,Scout cookies. I’m 65 now.

    Reply
  22. Diane Nelson - February 7, 2021 5:29 pm

    That was a fabulous article! I agree with your thoughts! Girl Scouts are changing the world! Well done!!!

    Reply
  23. challengedirector - February 7, 2021 5:38 pm

    I was a Brownie and Girl Scout and sold oodles and oodles of cookies, winning awards and loving everything associated with Girl Scouting. When it came time to put my own daughter in the program, I did some research based on what other mother’s were telling me. I won’t go into it here because I respect Sean and his writing too much, but please do your own research on Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood and an association called the Makers.

    I LOVE Thin Mints and bought them by the carton until I realized I could no longer support what had been an All American association.

    Reply
    • Charaleen Wright - February 8, 2021 6:39 am

      💖

      Reply
  24. MAM - February 7, 2021 6:06 pm

    I was a Girl Scout for 11 years from Browne through high school. My mother was our leader for many of those years and she had the privilege of being chosen to attend as leader of girls from all over the world at a session at Our Chalet in Switzerland. Then when I had daughters, i became a leader. I was also active on the council level in Denver. When we lived overseas, I started what were then called TOFS for Troops on Foreign Soil, where we met with and interacted with Indonesian Girl Guides. In Indonesia, we couldn’t get real Girl Scout cookies, but we got a trefoil shape cookie cutter and made our own sugar cookies and sold them to parents and other expat families for our local expenses. In Turkey, because there was a U.S. Air Base there, we got REAL Girl Scout cookies delivered from Germany. I also had the honor years ago of being chosen a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest.

    I agree with challengedirector about the organization today, unfortunately. It was once a great organization. On the local level, they still do good things.

    Reply
    • Charaleen Wright - February 8, 2021 6:41 am

      💖

      Reply
  25. Linda Moon - February 7, 2021 6:33 pm

    I hoped the title “Girl Scout Season” would lead to Girl Scout cookies. And it did! Right there in the first sentence! And I’m wearing sweatpants right now! As you can see, Writer, all of this reading of your words and thoughts of Girl Scout Cookies has made me very happy! In high-school I had a friend who drove a pink VW Bug. But that’s beside the point. Your history of the Girl Scouts, their leader, and their bravery is the point. You honored them well!

    Reply
  26. Cecelia Arnold - February 7, 2021 6:53 pm

    Thanks so much for that history lesson on Girl Scouts. I learned things I did not know. This organization teaches our young girls great things.

    Reply
  27. Michelle - February 7, 2021 8:08 pm

    Thanks for the lovely story. As a lifetime member of Girl Scouts it’s always nice to read an opinion that highlights all the attributes that set our movement apart and make it the largest volunteer organization for women and girls in the US.

    Reply
  28. stacy1956S - February 7, 2021 8:44 pm

    Your comments brought tears to my eyes… even more so than many of your other columns. I’m a lifelong Girl Scout who has provided many hours of volunteering with an organization that has given me so much. (BTW, its Girls Scouts of the USA, not Girl Scouts of America, that’s the boy’s name!)

    Reply
  29. Sue - February 7, 2021 9:21 pm

    I have been a Girl Scout for 70 years and earned the Curved Bar. My mom died when I was very young. My dad put me in Brownies when I turned six. I needed to have a female adult that I could talk to. I loved Girl Scouts. I had the same leader all 12 years. Ironically, when I got the phone call telling me she had died, I was at a Girl Scout meeting.
    I knew I had to give back to Girl Scouting. I had a troop for the 12 years my daughter was a GS. She earned her Gold Award. I have been a council trainer, council committee, summer camp staff, and older girl program.
    On a comical note, I was a teacher. My principal came to my classroom to tell me I had an emergency phone call. I ran down to the office to the phone. It was a lady whom I did not know. She had been to my pharmacist and had asked him if he knew any Girl Scouts. He gave her my name. She bought a case of Thin Mints.
    I remain active in Girl Scouts and will until the day I die.

    Reply
  30. Ann - February 7, 2021 9:34 pm

    Thank you, Sean, from a former Brownie and Girl Scout, now 78 years old. We all had such a good time while learning all sorts of good, important things. My Mom was both a Brownie and Girl Scout leader. Good fun
    times and YESSIR !!! some great cookies!! .

    Reply
  31. Marjorie Turner Hollman - February 7, 2021 10:50 pm

    I grew up on stories my mother told us of attending Camp Juliette Low in Georgia (this was in the 1940s). Mom visited the camp in the 90s and found it had been sold, and fallen into disrepair. But the connections she made at the camp were life-long. Two of her closest life long friends she met at camp. This was a time when campers spent the entire summer there. Yes, life-changing, for sure.

    Reply
    • Cheryl Legette - February 8, 2021 2:54 pm

      I work for the council in GA that owns Camp Low and has snice the 40’s. You’ll be glad to know it is in good repair. Girls are still camping, making friends and having fun. They are also developing skills that will last for a lifetime. We have limited schedules with safety protocols in place right now, but when it’s safe you’re invited to, come for a visit.

      Reply
      • Marjorie - February 8, 2021 3:18 pm

        Cheryl, that is so wonderful to hear! Mom died before I could persuade her to write down her stories, but boy, she was always ready to share a story of Camp Juliette Low. I am convinced it was a real refuge for her, and friends she made were an important part of our lives. Thank you for this–when we can travel again I would love to see this place that figured so much in my growing up years and family lore. Thank you!

        Reply
  32. haileyhudson - February 7, 2021 11:24 pm

    I ate my first Girl Scout cookie today after a socially distanced delivery! I’m 21 years old and not sure how I’ve never had one before? But it was delicious and I’m hooked — it was a Thin Mint, which is the only one I can have because I can’t have dairy, but I’m told Thin Mints are the best.

    Reply
  33. Barbara Barnes - February 8, 2021 12:13 am

    Thanks for supporting the Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout in the 50’s, my youngest daughter was a GS in in the early 80’s, and now she is a troop leader and both her daughters are in GS troops.

    Reply
  34. Helen Blankenship - February 8, 2021 2:55 am

    Thank you for your kind words regarding the Girl Scouts. I was a Brownie, a Junior and a Cadette. I sold TONS of cookies with the help of my mother. My first summers as a Girl Scout, I attended Camp Meadow Wood in Dothan, Alabama. Then I attended Kamp Kiwanis on Lake Martin near Montgomery for many years. I had so much fun, made so many friends and have lots of great memories by being a Girl Scout. I’m now 61 years old and I’m a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts. It’s a wonderful organization!

    Reply
  35. Kate - February 8, 2021 1:35 pm

    I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout, and sold cookies, and as an adult bought cookies. Thank you for reminding us of this wonderful organization. I will try to find someone to buy cookies from this year. Sean, you really are amazing. Not sure how you do it, but you always seem to remind us of wonderful experiences that we have had. I think I could write a book, just by the memories your stories always seem to spark.

    Reply
  36. Suzanne - February 8, 2021 1:57 pm

    Great organization but where did you get the idea that cookie sales go to the local chapters? I remember how furious my mother was after my friends and I worked our butts off selling cookies and only a few pennies from each box sold went to the local troop.

    Reply
  37. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - February 8, 2021 8:54 pm

    I started as a Brownie and made it to Cadet. After that, the activities were more physically challenging and were not my thing. I did have fun and I always buy from a scout when I am asked especially if asked by the scout herself.

    Reply
  38. Janet - February 9, 2021 12:18 am

    Thank you for your support of the Girl Scouts, such a wonderful organization that helps develop leadership skills in our girls! 😊🙌🏻💪🏻😎 When it’s “cookie time” I always purchase a case of Samoas & a couple of each of the other kinds for my husband. I can’t say that they freeze well because they don’t last that long at our house!?! 🤪🤣

    Reply
  39. Brewer McCarty - February 9, 2021 4:22 am

    I am proud to say that they are still outside of the Publix store in Santa Rosa Beach. Even during the heavy rain this past weekend. They were snuggled up under the awning. So close that you couldn’t help but run into their table when coming out of the store. There was a line waiting to buy. I bought several. Love it.

    Reply
  40. Julie - February 9, 2021 12:34 pm

    One entire box of Thin Mints
    + one tall glass of ice cold milk
    ——————————————
    one very happy camper💚

    ‘nuff said.

    Reply
  41. Rachel - February 9, 2021 2:47 pm

    To answer Suzanne’s question, some money stays with the troop and the remainder stays with the local council. This covers programs, camp operations and maintenance, and other local needs like scholarships for underprivileged girls to be able to participate in Girl Scouts.

    Reply
  42. Anita Denney - February 9, 2021 6:17 pm

    Girl Scout House for years. In the late 60’s I was Once Again “Cookie Chairman Mom!! “ As my basement filled with cookie boxes, I was OVERCOME with desire. Only 3 months from my “Due” date with #3 child . On my next checkup from the Doctor he said, WHAT IN THE “blank” HAVE YOU BEEN EATING!!! Confession is good for the soul.

    Reply
  43. Marsha S Hinnen - February 10, 2021 5:46 pm

    Thank you for this rousing endorsement of an organization dear to my heart. And of those delicious cookies.

    When I was growing up in a family of five girls, the Scouts were huge for us. I was a member from second grade into college. My mom was a troop leader. We probably ate as many cookies as we sold.

    I clearly remember my first cookie selling experience, proudly wearing my Brownie uniform. No one seemed to be home and I was very discouraged. Finally, a man answered the door – and promptly chuckled. Guess it was that cuteness factor. Anyway, he bought a box of cookies from me and I went home with a satisfied feeling of having done my Girl Scout duty.

    Now it’s my privilege to buy cookies from my granddaughters. Long live Thin Mints and the Girl Scouts!

    Reply

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