I’ll keep my introduction short. Girl Scout Cookies are made by two different bakeries. Each bakery makes six-eight varieties, with five made by both bakers. What you get depends on which bakery your local council contracts with. We live in Little Brownie Bakers land while my parents live in ABC land. Katy and I thought it would be fun to do side-by-side comparisons of the five duplicate cookies and had my mom buy and ship us the cookies. Last year we did three varieties and you can read about the results here.
This year we tackled Samoas/Carmel deLites, which are neck in neck with Thin Mints as the top sellers, and Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties. For names, ABC wins hands down. I like the straightforward names. They also win for packaging. All boxes have tear strips so they’re easy to open (LBB had them until a few years ago, then switched to a sealed flap), chocolate varieties are packaged in foil so they maintain their integrity better when frozen then thawed and the trays (when used) have better compartmentalization so the cookies stay in place.
As for taste …
First up are the caramel cookies. The ABC Carmel-de-Lites package is a bit wider.
We found out why the ABC box was wider when we opened it — and took the foil off! The tray is compartmentalized so the cookies stay separate. The tray in the Samoas is not and I can tell you from personal experience that when you freeze Samoas, the cookies are firmly frozen together and you have to wait for them to thaw or pry them apart.
So, ABC wins for packaging. Onto taste.
You can tell by looking that the Samoa is darker and richer. It has more toasted coconut flakes, too. Breaking open the cookies reveals that the Samoas have a layer of gooey caramel whereas the Carmel-deLites don’t. The Samoas also list caramelized sugar as an ingredient and the Carmel deLites don’t.
For the taste, the Samoas had an overall stronger flavor and were much moister. The Carmel-de-Lite was dryer with a much milder taste (nice way of saying it didn’t have much taste in comparison). I didn’t notice anything in the ingredients that would make much of a difference. Although I did notice the Carmel-de-Lites have high fructose corn syrup, in addition to sugar. Heath says without the layer of caramel, the Caramel-de-Lites have a stronger coconut flavor.
For the Tagalongs and Peanut Butter Patties, once again ABC wins for packaging. I’ve never opened a box of Tagalongs that didn’t look like someone had been playing keep-away with it. Both bakeries use compartmentalized trays but the ABC tray actually keeps the cookies in place. Weird since the ABC tray was actually smaller.
And, the inside:
Once again, ABC wins for packaging.
The Tagalongs are much darker and you can see that even on the box.
The Tagalongs had a much stronger peanut butter and chocolate taste. It tastes very much like a Reece’s PB Cup. The PBP was milder with a taste I couldn’t place. At first I wanted to say mint but it wasn’t that. I need to get someone else to taste them, there’s something else there. In the ingredients, the Tagalongs list peanut butter then sugar while the PBP are sugar and then peanut butter. Also, the Tagalongs list “partially defatted peanut flour” as the last ingredient. There isn’t much but it might be enough to give it that extra peanut kick.
Here is a cross-section of both cookies.
The layer of peanut butter in the PBP goes all the way across but the layer in the Tagalong is a little deeper. Katy thinks they have the same amount of peanut butter.
So we’ve now compared all five cross-over varieties of Girl Scout cookies and have determined that Little Brownie Bakers has the better-tasting cookies. You can see Katy’s video review: