Friday, February 8, 2013

Girl Scout Cookies Through the Years

Girl Scout Cookies are an icon of American culture. For nearly 100 years, Girl Scouts, with the enthusiastic support of their families, have sold cookies to earn money for troop and community service activities, in the process having fun and developing valuable life skills.





On National Girl Scout Cookie Day, as we celebrate the incredible success of what has become the world's largest girl-led enterprise with $790 million in annual sales, here's a look back on how it all began.

Early Years

Girl Scout Cookies had their earliest beginnings in the kitchens and ovens of our girl members, with moms volunteering as technical advisers. 

The sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities began as early as 1917—just five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouting in the United States—when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.

In July 1922, The American Girl magazine, published by Girl Scout national headquarters, featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois. Miss Neil provided a cookie recipe that had been given to her council's 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen.


Cookie recipe published in American Girl magazine, 1922.



In the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country continued to bake their own simple sugar cookies with their mothers. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.


First Lady Mrs. Coolidge eating a Girl Scout cookie in 1923.                 Source: Georgia Historical Society.
1930s

In 1933, Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia council baked cookies and sold them in the city's gas and electric company windows. The cost was just 23 cents per box of 44 cookies, or six boxes for $1.24. Through this new effort, the girls developed their marketing and business skills and raised funds for their local Girl Scout council. A year later, Greater Philadelphia took cookie sales to the next level, becoming the first council to sell commercially baked cookies.

In 1935, the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York raised money through the sale of commercial cookies. Buying its own die in the shape of a trefoil, the group used the words “Girl Scout Cookies” on the box. In 1936, the national Girl Scout organization began the process of licensing the first commercial baker to produce cookies that would be sold nationwide by girls in Girl Scout councils.


1940s

Girl Scout Cookies were sold by local councils around the country until World War II, when sugar, flour, and butter shortages led Girl Scouts to begin selling calendars to raise money for activities.

After the war, cookie sales resumed, with the national organization licensing local bakers to produce and package cookies. By 1948, a total of 29 bakers were licensed to bake Girl Scout Cookies.


1950s

In 1951, with the growth of the suburbs, Girl Scouts began selling cookies at tables in shopping malls.

Girl Scouts sold four basic types of cookies: a vanilla-based filled cookie, a chocolate-based filled one, a shortbread one, and a chocolate mint. 

Girl Scout poster, circa 1960s.  Image from here.

1960s

During the 1960s, when Baby Boomers expanded Girl Scout membership, cookie sales increased significantly. Fourteen licensed bakers were mixing batter for thousands upon thousands of Girl Scout Cookies annually. 
By 1966, a number of varieties were available. Among the best sellers were Chocolate Mint (now known as Thin Mints), Shortbread, and Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies.

Girl Scouts show off the Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies circa 1973 - 1980.
Photo from here
1970s

In 1978, the number of bakers was streamlined to four to ensure lower prices and uniform quality, packaging, and distribution. For the first time in history, all cookie boxes—regardless of the baker—featured the same designs and depicted scenes of Girl Scouts in action, enjoying activities such as hiking and canoeing. 


Photo from here

The cookie boxes also began promoting the benefits of Girl Scouting.

1980s

In 1982, four bakers still produced a maximum of seven varieties of cookies—three mandatory (Thin Mint®, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos®, and Shortbread/Trefoils®) and four optional. Cookie boxes depicted scenes of Girl Scouts in action.

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA

1990s

In the early 1990s, two licensed bakers supplied local Girl Scout councils with cookies for girls to sell, and by 1998, this number had grown again to three. Eight cookie varieties were available, including low-fat and sugar-free selections that never sold well enough to continue producing.

GSUSA also introduced official age-appropriate awards for Girl Scout Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors, including the Cookie Activity Pin, which was awarded for participating in cookie activities.

2000s

Photo courtesy of
Little Brownie Bakers
New cookie box designs, introduced in fall of 2000, were bold and bright, capturing the spirit of Girl Scouting. Two licensed bakers produced a maximum of eight varieties, including three that were mandatory (Thin Mints®, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos®, and Shortbread/Trefoils®). All cookies were kosher. And, even our youngest Girl Scouts -- Daisies -- were now able to sell cookies.


Today

As of 2013, all boxes of Girl Scout Cookies have a new look and a new purpose: to elevate the significance of the Girl Scout Cookie Program. 

The new Girl Scout Cookie package showcases the five financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills that the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls, skills that will last them a lifetime: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
The decision to update the package came about in 2010 as part of an overall brand refresh in advance of the organization's 100th anniversary on March 12, 2012. The package needed to be more contemporary to reflect the new brand identity and to embody the spirit of Girl Scouting, while showing customers how their cookie purchase is making a difference in girls' lives.


Where to Find Cookies

In Alaska, public sales of Girl Scout cookies will begin March 1 and continue through March 30.  You can find out where girls will be selling by visiting www.girlscoutcookies.org and typing in your zip code to see a list of times, dates and locations.

If you can't find cookies being sold in your area, call the Girl Scouts of Alaska office and we'll do our best to make sure you get some!  You can reach us during business hours at 907-248-2250 or 800-478-7448. 


For some great tips on how to buy cookies, check out this video.





2 comments:

  1. Yummy! - I created a skip-counting card game called Speed! that's helping girls in our area prepare for sales. With boxes costing between $3 and $4 each, they have been playing Three-Speed and Four-Speed. Here's the link.

    http://highhillhomeschool.blogspot.com/p/highhill-educational-supplies.html

    ReplyDelete