by Michelle A.L. Singer
After the dust from the holidays has settled and yet winter still stretches before us, we may be inclined to despair. But then, like a ray of hope dawning, we remember: Girl Scout Cookie season! From January through March, we welcome the arrival of Tagalongs, Samoas, and Thin Mints. Or maybe you’re an outlier, and your favorite Girl Scout Cookie is the simple shortbread Trefoil, lemony Savannah Smiles, or the classic peanut butter Do-Si-Dos. You may not even know about the new S’mores cookie or gluten-free Toffee Tastics.
But there is more to the cookie than meets the crumb. Ginger Kozlowski, communications and PR manager for the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains (GSGWM), the regional council that Vermont and New Hampshire Girl Scout troops belong to, notes that, “The Girl Scout Cookie program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world. It is the largest financial investment in girls annually in the United States. A recent Girl Scout Research Institute study found that two out of three girls who participate in the program learn five crucial skills—goal-setting, decision- making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—while doing incredible things for themselves and their communities.”
Take for example, Ava Deblois, a fourth-grader at Calais Elementary and a Girl Scout for four years. In this year alone, she’s earned badges in animal habitats, first aid, simple meal preparation, drawing, and will, of course, earn a badge for her efforts selling cookies. She’s one of the best sellers in her troop in East Montpelier. Her goal for this year is 500 boxes, and she has sold 328 so far. “I ask lots of family and friends,” she says. “Also, I got to school early so I could ask the teachers.”
If Ava reaches her goal of 500 boxes, it will earn her troop $450. All Girl Scouts cookies are $5 per box. The profit margin is based on a tiered system: the more boxes a Girl Scout sells, the better her earnings are, from 65 cents to 90 cents per box. According to GSGWM, all the money stays local, with 24 percent of proceeds from cookie sales going directly to the troop. Another 24 percent goes to the cost of the cookies themselves —transportation, cookie staff, and related expenses. The remaining 52 percent goes to GSGWM for “programs, training, and properties” including the camps throughout Vermont and New Hampshire that they run and that Ava is working toward going to this summer.
In addition to the profit per box for the troop, Ava will receive “Cookie Dough,” an earned reward that can be used toward Girl Scout camp, merchandise, dues, and trips for up to one year. Girl Scouts must sell a minimum of 150 boxes to qualify for Cookie Dough, and if Ava meets her goal of selling 500 boxes, she will earn $150 in Cookie Dough just for herself, in addition to the money she earns for her troop. “I will use my earnings to go to Girl Scout camp, or I can spend some at the Girl Scout store,” she says. “What I like best about Girl Scouts is, we combine all of our earnings from cookie sales and go on a fun field trip. And also do something to help the community.”
Ava’s troop in East Montpelier will collectively use their earnings this year to take an overnight trip to the Great Escape Lodge near Lake George, which has an indoor water park. They also voted as a troop to go horseback riding for a badge and complete two service projects. They will hold a “can-struction” food drive, which has students in classrooms compete to build a structure out of the canned goods they have collected for the food shelf. The winning structure’s class will get cupcakes decorated by the Girl Scouts. They have also chosen to make thank-you bags for local police and fire departments.
“I think my best sellers are Thin Mints and Samoas,” says Ava. Her observation tracks with what Robin Boyd, product sales manager of GSGWM, reports. “Girl Scouts in Vermont and New Hampshire sold 1.3 million packages of cookies last year in a mere 12-week period,” she says. “Based on sales last year, we can see that Vermonters do love their Thin Mints, with Samoas being a close second.”
Girl Scouts employs two official cookie bakers. Cookies in our area come from Little Brownie Bakers, a subsidiary of Kellogg’s. Depending on where you are in the country, and which baker the local council works with, availability will be slightly different, as will the names of some of the cookies. That’s why your aunt a few states away might say she loves Caramel deLites, when she means Samoas, or Peanut Butter Patties when she’s talking about Tagalongs. Or your old roommate might post on Facebook that they stocked up on Lemonades when you’re seeing quite clearly that they have Savannah Smiles. Thin Mints and S’mores are the same everywhere.
Whatever cookie is your favorite, one thing remains the same: they are only available until cookie sales end on March 25. Times and locations of local cookie booths are subject to change, so check online at girlscoutsgwm.org before you go, or if you want more information.
What’s Your Favorite Girl Scout Cookie?
- Bill Fraser, Montpelier City Manager: “Thin Mints – Duh!”
- Michael McRaith, Montpelier High School Principal: “Tagalong, hands down!”
- Kimberly Jessup, Vermont State Representative for Middlesex & East Montpelier: “I’d have to say the Peanut Butter Sandwich goes to the top of my list.”
- Ginger Kozlowski, Communications and PR Manager for GSGWM: “Thin Mints are my favorite, hands down. Can you eat just one cookie? Or one box?”
- Ava Deblois, local Girl Scout: “My favorite cookie is the S’mores cookie!”
- Carrie Green, Director of Marketing, Communications and PR for GSGWM: “Samoas, definitely. They’re the perfect combination of chocolate, caramel, and coconut!”