Back in 1917 a Girl Scout troop in Oklahoma decided to bake cookies and sell them in their school cafeteria for a fund-raiser. When the house is stacked with cookies and there’s seemingly endless deliveries to make I want to go back in time and say “Have a car wash!”. But Girl Scout cookies have become a great American tradition and I’m grateful we no longer have to bake them! In 1936 the sale got big enough to have the cookies commercially baked.
No one knows exactly what recipe the Oklahoma troop baked but the first-known published recipe appeared in American Girl Magazine (the official Girl Scout magazine) in 1922.
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
Additional sugar for topping (optional)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.
I tried this recipe. It was a sticky mess so I kept adding more flour and refrigerating the dough. After adding an extra cup of flour and refrigerating it all night and half the day I still had to scrape the dough off the parchment paper with a spatula. I finally gave up rolling them out, pinched off a piece of dough, rolled it into a ball and flattened it with a glass.
After 24 hours of work the cookies didn’t taste all that great. When they came out of the oven they were cake-like in texture. I let them sit overnight and by morning they were crispy but the taste hadn’t improved any.
You can try the recipe, but I don’t recommend it!
Girl Scouts sell just over 2 million boxes of cookies each year and are the third-largest in cookie sales (probably behind Nabisco and Keebler, but that’s just a guess).
Here is an interesting timeline of cookie sales. (Click to enlarge.)
Thin Mints were originally called Chocolate Mints and were introduced in 1951.
Getting those cookies from the bakery to the customer is a monumental job. The bakeries (there are two) get the cookies to the council and the council as to get them out to the membership. In the past, in our council, each service unit (a group of troops organized by geography) was responsible for finding a warehouse or some place to unload the entire SU’s cookies — into the thousands of cases — unload the trucks, sort the cookies out by troop then the troop cookie moms and dads came and picked them up. When Katy was in fifth grade that all changed. Thank goodness as that was my first year as cookie mom.
Enter Count-N-Go. This is amazing. The council secures drop off sites all over the council area for one-three days (some combination of Friday-Sunday). Troop cookie volunteers pick out where they want to pick up their cookies and what time. This is really nice because you can pick a site close to home or close to your work or wherever is most convenient for you. If you are picking up cookies for troops from more than one service unit, which is very possible around here, you can get them all at the same location.
Council employees, paid temporary workers and a few volunteers unload the trucks and stack the cookies by variety. When it’s your pick-up time, you pull your car into the line, someone checks off your troop number and hands you a delivery slip, you pull up to each stack of cookies and tell the person how many cases you need and the cookies are loaded into your car. This is really a two-person job, one to drive the car and one to supervised the loading. I had Katy with me yesterday and she walked alongside and watched the cases go in.
At the end of the line, you turn in a copy of your delivery slip, pick up the girls’ pre-order incentives if they have any and have a last chance to count all your cookies and make sure you have them all. Then you take them all home and hope your troop parents come that day to get them all out of your garage or living room or wherever you have them stacked.
Our pick-up time was 5:04 p.m. and I got a few photos of the pick-up area. Keep in mind these photos were taken after 5, imagine what the place looked like at 8 a.m.
Here is an aerial view of another count-n-go location.
Katy is technically a Juliette (individually registered Girl Scout) but she’s in a small special-interest group with two other girls. One girl sold through her troop and the other didn’t sell at all so I was just picking up cookies for Katy. She sold just under 17 cases and you have to round up to the nearest full case so we weren’t picking up much and it went really fast.
Here is her load at home and Buddy checking it out.
Now comes the fun part, contacting everyone to let them know their cookies are here and the bookkeeping.