Girl Scout Cookies - Over the Years

Image by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar on FlickrThere are few who don’t enjoy the delicious flavors of Girl Scout cookies, and while almost everyone has a favorite, not very many people bother to question the origins of these delicious cookies. Wondering why your favorite treats even exist today? We know they are delicious cookies by design, but the history of Girl Scout Cookies is a bit more complicated than you may think.

The Early Days

Girl Scout Cookies didn’t always come from a brightly colored box. Instead, their origins are in the home ovens of the girls and troop leaders themselves. In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low created the Girl Scouts. By 1917, many troops were looking for a way to raise funds for various activities. A cookie sale seemed like a good idea. While it’s hard to pin down the exact first date of a Girl Scout cookie sale, the first mention of the activity occurred in December of 1917.

By July of 1922, the ranks had swelled to nearly 2,000 girl scouts, and a cookie recipe was suggested in a magazine that went out to all of the girls. At a total cost of just 27 cents, the cookies could be sold for up to 30 cents a dozen, making a nice profit for the girls.

Throughout that decade and the one that followed, troops of girls across the country baked sugar cookies with the help of moms and troop leaders, then packaged to sell for 35 cents per dozen. It was the perfect fundraiser for the Scouts.

A Commercial Leap

Image by Brad.L.Owens on FlickrBy 1936, the idea of Girl Scouts selling cookies had become so popular, the organization as a whole began looking for some commercial help. Just a year later, more than 125 troops had reported in that they were holding their own cookie sales.

World War II, though, put a temporary halt to the sale of the cookies. Because sugar, flour, and butter were all carefully rationed throughout the war, cookies were fairly hard to come by in any big amounts. The girls switched, temporarily, to calendars to help raise money.

After the war, the national organization moved forward with its idea of licensing bakeries at a local level to produce the cookies. By the end of the 40’s, 29 bakers across the U.S. were licensed, and girls everywhere were offering delicious cookies at a fair price.

The fifties saw three flavor options eventually expand to four. The first three flavors were sandwich cookies, shortbread cookies, and Thin Mints. By the end of the decade, though, the sandwich cookies were offered in two different varieties, vanilla and chocolate.

The next decade brought carefully wrapped cookies to help preserve them. Lots of varieties were now available, but the favorites remained chocolate mint, shortbread, and peanut butter sandwich cookies. By the seventies, just four bakeries were working on the cookies, which helped to keep quality to a maximum and price to a minimum. All of the boxes had the same design across the country, and all of the designs depicted the scouts actually involved in a variety of different projects. There were now seven different flavors.

These days, there are eight different flavors as well as some sugar free cookies. Girls are encouraged to participate and rewarded for their sales numbers. They’re simply an expected part of scouting, and people around Scouts love them almost as much as the girls do.

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