It’s a lemon-off

Every time I think we’ve done our last Girl Scout cookie taste test we end up doing another one. As you know by now if you’ve been reading my posts, Girl Scouts contracts with two bakers –ABC owned by Interbake Foods and Little Brownie Bakeries owned by Keebler. Each council chooses which bakery to do business with and heaven help the council that decides to switch bakeries. ABC has nine varieties of cookies and LBB has eight. Five are the “standards:” — Thin Mints, Samoas/Carmel Delites, Trefoils/Shortbread, Do-si-dos/Peanutbutter Sandwiches and Tagalongs/Peanutbutter Patties. Right now both bakeries also have a smore cookie that was introduced a couple of years ago. Both bakeries also have a gluten free cookie.

So outside of the standards the bakeries are free to create other flavors. ABC has had a lemon-flavored cookie for years called Lemonades which are very popular. People who live in ABC councils love them; people who live in LBB councils are always trying to find out how to get their hands on a package.  When Katy started selling 12 years ago LBB had the Lemon Chalet Creme. It was two vanilla cookies with a layer of lemon creme in the middle. I really liked them. Then 2012 was the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts so LBB came out with a lemon cookie in honor of that called Savannah Smiles as Girl Scouts started in Savannah. It was a shortbread cookie coated in powdered sugar. All of the lemon flavor seemed to be in the sugar. The bakery said it had lemon chips in the cookie to give a “burst of lemon flavor”. I thought the cookie without the sugar was pretty tasteless. Neither were big sellers. People who really liked lemon bought them, most people just stick with the five standards.

So this year LBB developed a new lemon cookie called Lemon-Ups. Girl Scouts’ national headquarters wanted to have a big national roll-out on January seventh so while the cookies were on the order forms no one was allowed to talk about them on social media or the public at large. In Atlanta we start taking orders on Jan. 1 so we only had to bite our tongues for a week, other councils were wrapping up their sales around the first of the year and were never allowed to make any big announcement. So while you could share a link to your daughter’s online store on your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, you couldn’t say “Little Suzie is selling cookies, be sure to check out the new Lemon-Ups”. But then as soon as anyone clicked on the link they could see there was a new cookie. If they were paying attention, most people focus on their favorites and ignore the rest. So that was all a little frustrating.

Well, my parents live in an ABC council and my mom sends us boxes of their cookies and bought two packages of the Lemonades for us. We got those cookies and our own this week and had a taste test.

Since we’ve never tried the Lemonades and the Lemon-Ups are brand new it was really a taste test.

The first thing I noticed just feeling the unopened package is there are more Lemonades. There are 16 cookies to a package, whereas Lemon-Ups have only 12. Each council sets its own cookie prices but most councils are selling at $4 so you get more cookie for your money with the Lemonades. The cookies are the same size, the package of Lemonades weighs about 2.5 ounces more. So it’s not a case of getting fewer, bigger cookies.


Both packages are plastic — ABC has several of their cookies in plastic — and both have the same photo. All the cookie packages were redesigned this year.

When we opened the packages I realized why ABC gets more cookies to a package. Katy and I had each eaten one cookie from each before I remembered to take pictures.

The Lemon-Ups are on the left. Even with two cookies missing you can see how much wasted space there is. The middle front and back of the tray has a curve to it. The Lemonades have a much-better designed tray.

One thing Girl Scouts really promoted about the Lemon-Ups is the message on each cookie. You can see those cookies say “I Am Creative” and “I Am Bold”.

A better view of two different messages. I don’t know how many different ones there are.

The two varieties are pretty much the same — a shortbread cookie with a lemon layer on the bottom.

The Lemonade is designed to look like a slice of lemon.

Both cookies taste like shortbread, I didn’t notice a difference in just the cookie taste.

The bottom, however.

The Lemon-Up is on the left and it has a lemon glaze. The Lemonade is on the right and it has a lemon icing. With the Lemon-Up you really felt the texture of the cookie, with the Lemonade you got a really smooth, creamy feeling on your tongue. As for taste, the Lemon-Up had a really strong, tangy lemon taste. The Lemonade I really didn’t notice much lemon flavor at all. It was a lot more subtle. Katy wasn’t much help, she had just eaten a lemon Skittle and said it was more lemony than either cookie. Heath said one had “an obnoxious lemony taste like lemon pie filling, the other one wasn’t as bad”. Well, I can tell you, the Lemon-Ups have a much stronger lemon taste. I like lemon and I did like the Lemon Chalet Creams and I’ll happily eat lemon meringue pie but I really don’t think I’d buy either of these cookies. Although the Lemon-Up had a stronger lemon flavor, it was still mostly shortbread.

So someone mentioned the Lemon-Up tasted like artificial lemon so I thought to look at the ingredients in each.

First off, this right on the front of each package.


Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B2 [riboflavin], folic acid), sugar, soybean and palm oil, contains 2% or less of natural flavors, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate), annatto extract color, soy lecithin, citric acid, whey protein concentrate, propylene glycol alginate, fructose, malic acid.


Enriched wheat flour (flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, vegetable oil shortening (palm and palm kernel oils), cornstarch, corn syrup, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda), salt, natural and artificial flavor, soy lecithin, annatto extract (color), citric acid, malic acid.

Interesting that two different types of lemon cookies don’t actually list lemon in the ingredients. A little lemon flavoring goes a long way so you don’t need much and I think if it’s less than a certain amount companies aren’t required to be specific.

So that is, hopefully, the end of the taste tests. If you’d like to see our other taste, here they are.



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