My first experience with Girl Scout cookies was shortly after college when I became a Brownie leader in the West Texas Girl Scout Council. I’d been a Girl Scout but that was in Singapore and we didn’t sell cookies. One summer my grandmother had a few boxes of cookies in the freezer that said “Girl Scouts” on them and I ate them but it didn’t really register exactly what they were. In college no one was selling on campus (they would have made a killing) and I guess I never saw any booths at Wal-Mart. Girl Scout cookies didn’t seem to penetrate the college bubble.
Then when I graduated and got a job at the paper in Sweetwater I wanted something to do and became a Brownie leader. Actually I was an assistant leader the first year. And there was this thing called “cookie sales”. Well, I learned a lot about Girl Scout cookies during those five years. We sold Shortbreads and Thin Mints and Carmel DeLites and Peanut Butter Sandwiches and for two years a sinfully wonderful cookie called Strawberry Cheesecake. That was ABC Bakeries.
Then many years later I got married and moved to Atlanta and there were cookies everywhere. And they were different. The Thin Mints (which I don’t like, anyway) sounded familiar but then there were Samoas (not to be confused with that wonderful Indian snack, the samosa), Do-So-Dos and what exactly is the Tagalong tagging along after? That’s when I discovered that there are two bakeries that make the cookies and this council uses Little Brownie Bakers. And when I became the mother of a Brownie and began my second round as a Brownie leader and found myself at another cookie parent meeting I learned each council sets its own rules and regulations for cookie sales. I peppered our poor service unit cookie coordinator with more questions!
I always had the idea that ABC cookies were better but it had been a long time since I had one and also that was really my first GS cookie experience so I didn’t know if it was just bias. I do know for certain I prefer the ABC names. They are straightforward and you know what you’re getting. You just have to keep the Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Peanut Butter Patties straight. My parents live in ABC country so I decided to have a taste test and had my mom send Shortbreads (equivalent to Trefoils), Peanut Butter Sandwiches (equivalent to Do-Si-Dos) and Thin Mints (well, you know!). Tonight we finally got a chance to compare. Katy wanted to do a video review and that link is at the end of this post.
The first thing I noticed was the packaging. LBB cookie boxes are glued shut and you have to pry apart the top flap. The ABC boxes have a perforated strip to pull. LBB used to have the strip and I don’t know what happened to that or exactly when it changed. We still have a box of Thin Mints from last year in the freezer (we stock up) and it has the glued-down flap.The ABC boxes were much easier to open. Also, the sleeves that contain the cookies were easier to open on the ABC varieties. It just took one tug at the corners to pull open a sleeve of ABC (the plastic and foil, both) whereas the LBB sleeves required more tugging. So if you need a cookie now, you’ll get into a box of ABC cookies a few seconds faster.
On to the cookies.
First up were the Do-Si-Dos and Peanut Butter Sandwiches.
The boxes are the same except for the name of the cookie.
Here are the cookies. The ABC peanut butter sandwich is on the left and the LBB Do-Si-Do is on the right. They are similar in size and weight. They look a little different, as you can see the DSD is a little darker and more textured.
Both cookies are two oatmeal cookies with a peanut butter filling in the middle. The filling is the main thing, I think. So I opened the cookies to compare and taste the filling separately.
The fillings tasted very different. The ABC filling had a much stronger peanut taste. You should have seen Heath’s reaction when he bit into the whole cookie. He just said “whoa!”. The DSD filling was downright bland in comparison. It had a peanut flavor, but not nearly as much. The explanation is in the ingredients. The Do-Si-Do contains peanut butter. The PB Sandwich ingredients list peanuts. LBB is using a premade paste of some kind whereas ABC apparently is grinding fresh peanuts. The difference is evident in the taste. Also, the Do-Si-Do has more oats than peanut butter and the Peanut Butter Sandwich has more peanuts than oats.
As for the outside cookie part, I thought the Do-Si-Do tasted better. But when you eat the whole cookie together, the PB Sandwich is much better because of the strong peanut flavor.
Up next were the Shortbread/Trefoils.
The cookie is supposed to be a replica of the Girl Scout trefoil emblem:
ABC clearly did a better job of turning out a cookie that looks like the Trefoil. The LBB cookie doesn’t quite look the same.
For taste, I always thought the LBB Trefoil tasted more like a sugar cookie and the ABC Shortbread tasted more like shortbread. Having them both to compare I don’t think either tastes like shortbread. I need to get a package of Walkers to compare. The LBB cookie has a much stronger vanilla taste. It has brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk, neither of which are in the ABC cookie. While the LBB tastes a little stronger I don’t think one tastes any better than the other.
And on to nearly everyone’s favorite:
I should make it clear hear that I don’t like mint. I don’t like Thin Mints, I don’t like mint toothpaste, I don’t like after-dinner mints. I will occasionally suck on a candy cane at Christmas because it’s what you’re supposed to do. However, I managed to put my dislike for mint aside and compare the two Thin Mints.
This is the one cookie that has the same name for both bakeries. But that’s about where the similarities end.
First, the packaging.
The LBB box is on the right and you can’t really tell in the photo but it’s a little shorter and a little shallower from front to back than the ABC box. They both have 32 cookies per box but the ABC cookies are packed a little looser.
The next difference comes when you open the box:
The LBB cookies are wrapped in plastic and the ABC in foil. The cookies in the foil will freeze better. I don’t know if the ABC cookie recipe is different enough that the plastic didn’t work or if LBB should really package in foil, too. I remember when ABC sold the Strawberry Cheesecake cookies, the first year they were packaged in plastic and the filling was brittle when they were frozen and then thawed and there were a lot of complaints. The next year they were packaged in foil. But I’m getting off -topic.
The cookies themselves:
The two cookies are noticeably different in appearance. They’re same size around but the ABC cookie is slightly thinner. The edge of the ABC cookie is scalloped a bit and it has a few more dimples.
For taste, the ABC had a much, much stronger mint taste, you really couldn’t taste the chocolate at all. It was also a little crispier. The LBB cookie had a milder mint taste in comparison and you could taste a faint hint of chocolate. It was crispy but not quite as crispy as the ABC.
The ingredients for both are the same and both list natural and artificial flavors and peppermint oil as the last two ingredients. I don’t if ABC uses more peppermint oil or a different variety.
Next year we’ll have to get ABC’s Carmel DeLites and Peanut Butter Patties and compare those two. Stay tuned!
Here is the link for Katy’s video review. It’s a little long (OK, it’s a lot long) but she didn’t want to edit it. You can skip the parts that have me and that’ll shave a little time off of it.