Monday, January 18, 2010

The History of Girl Scout Cookies

As this is the final week we're taking orders on Girl Scout Cookies in Loudoun, this is likely to be my last post on this subject - at least until next year.  But, don't miss my prior posts with descriptions of GS cookies, and interesting recipes using GS cookies.  Remember, they are distributed but once a year, and they freeze well enough to have some for the whole year.... so order a lot!!

The History Of Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scouts started selling cookies in the 1920s as fundraisers.  Just like today's typical bake sales the girls, moms and leaders would bake assorted cookies and goods and sell them to neighborsand friends.  In an early GS magazine, THIS SHORTBREAD COOKIE RECIPE (Click Here) was distributed to all girl scouts with the suggestion that they could be made for about 26 to 36 cents for six to seven dozen, and should be sold for 25 to 30 cents per dozen.

In 1933, The Greater Philadelphia Council was the first council to do mass marketing for cookie sales, selling them in the city's gas and electric company windows for a price of 23 cents for a box of 44 cookies or $1.24 for six boxes sold in the city's gas and electric company windows.  A year later, the same council became the first to sell commercially baked cookies.  In 1935, the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York sold commercially produced shortbread cookies in the shape of a Trefoil, and for the first time used the words "Girl Scout Cookies" on the box. 

In 1936, the national organization got involved in the cookie sales, and by 1937 more than 125 GS councils reported being involved in cookie sales... and so began the official custom.  Although some councils used commercial bakeries, at that time, many girl scout cookies were still being baked by girl scouts.  In the 1940's, however, there was a terrible shortage of sugar, flour and butter... and in order to continue the custom of annual sales, the national Girl Scouts council licensed 29 bakers to produce cookies for sales.

By 1951, there were three types of official GS cookies - the shortbread cookie (Trefoil), a sandwich cookie and a chocolate mint cookie (Thin Mints).  Today, there are far more options available and new cookies are often added, with less popular cookies being deleted from sales.  There are 2 bakers that are licensed to sell GS cookies, and the contract is renewed each year after reviewing competing proposals.  Bakers must produce the 3 official GS cookies: Trefoils, Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos (the peanut butter sandwich, which is sold under other names by different bakers), and can not offer more than 8 choices of cookies.

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