A Quick History of Girl Scout Cookies

Thin Mints, Tag-a-longs, and Trefoils – oh my! Next year, the Girl Scout Cookie legacy will turn 100 years old. You know how yummy the cookies are, and that Girl Scout troops use their cookie sale proceeds to help fund their many community service projects and other activities. But how did it all get started?

In 1917, only five years after Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in the United States, the Mistletoe Troop of Muskogee, Oklahoma sold home-baked cookies in their high school cafeteria. As it is today, the girls used their earnings to pay for their troop programs.

In July 1922, Girl Scouts of the USA’s The American Girl magazine featured a cookie recipe from the Chicago, Illinois council. Throughout the 1920s, Girl Scouts across the country baked simple sugar cookies, packaged them in waxed paper, and sold them door to door at prices unheard of today: often 25-35 cents per dozen!

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Commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies were first sold in 1934 by the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia Council.  A year later, the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York took things a step further with commercially baked cookies made using a die in the shape of a trefoil.  In 1936, the national Girl Scout organization began licensing commercial bakers to produce cookies for sale nationwide.

With the sugar, butter, and flour shortages of World War II, the Girl Scout Cookie program was put on hold. Beginning in 1944, Girl Scout calendars were produced and sold as an alternative fundraiser. Girl Scout Cookie sales enjoyed a healthy increase following the war, and the beloved tradition was back in full swing.

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Gulfcoast Girl Scouts gear up for cookie sales, 1950s.

A number of cookie variations have been offered over the years, including sandwich, shortbread, and chocolate mint varieties. Today, new varieties cater to consumers looking for healthier alternatives or gluten-free options.

Perhaps the greatest advance in the sale of Girl Scout Cookies came in 2015, with the online Digital Cookie platform, helping girls build 21st-century business skills.  One thing has remained the same, though. Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, girls gain confidence and take great pride in their success, all while earning funds and helping make their communities a better place – one cookie at a time.

~Lori Tomlinson is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.

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