Girl Scouts balance tradition with 21st century tastes

| January 31, 2019 | 0 Comments
TROOP 17125 prepares for the cookie season at a mock booth. Back row, left to right: Abigail Kampf, Ella Rodriguez, Diana Walters, Hanna Allee, Aliza Halm. Front row, left to right: Sloane Lindberg, Maya Schutt, Gia Plas, Sabrina Kampf, and Vivien Blair.

Girl Scouts have been selling cookies since 1917, but they are now embracing social and technological change within the 21st century.

Cookie season will run to Sun., March 10, and local booths will open on Fri., Feb. 8. Look for stands in front of Chevalier’s Books, Burger Lounge and Rite Aid on Larchmont Blvd. to stock up on local troops’ cookies.


A new cookie has joined the 2019 lineup: Caramel Chocolate Chip. The cookie features caramel, sea salt and semi-sweet chocolate chips, and it also happens to be gluten free.

It joins the other gluten-free cookie, Toffee-tastic, to make up approximately 20 percent of all available Girl Scout cookies.

The choice to include more gluten-free products reflects the relatively new trend away from wheat, barley and other sources of gluten. The market for gluten-free products, approximated at about $5 billion and projected to reach $7.6 billion by 2024, has grown especially through online sharing platforms, much like other trendy diets promising real results.

The Caramel Chocolate Chip cookie is just one cookie in a greater movement within Girl Scouts to keep up with modern consumer crazes for allergen-friendly and supposedly healthier products. In 2015, for example, Girl Scouts altered their iconic Thin Mint recipe to become vegan, and in 2011, they eliminated trans fat in five of their cookies.

Online sales

Girl Scouts are also utilizing technology in another fashion: social media. In addition to the age-old methods of door-to-door canvassing and booth sales, contemporary sales practices make heavy use of the internet as the next major avenue for cookie sales.

The Daisies and Juniors of Troop 17125, who are gearing up for the cookie season, are learning both. As Diana Walters, 11, puts it: “You have to be nice people, and you have to be able to advertise the correct way.”

In 2014, Girl Scouts launched Digital Cookie, a platform that allows girls to sell and advertise cookies online.

Abigail Kampf, a fifth grader at Third Street Elementary School, has used such online Girl Scout platforms, selling over 1,000 cookies in years past. 

“We have a kind-of Facebook, but it’s a Girl Scout thing on the Girl Scout web site. You just publish videos on the website,” Kampf said. “A lot of them are just to my family, specifically because they live far away, so they spread the word to people they know.” 

Sabrina Kampf, a first grader and Abigail Kampf’s younger sister, helps create these videos. She already has a plan for this cookie season.

“I do one video every year. We’ll do one about cookies with a booth behind us,” Kampf said.

In addition, the girls post on Facebook and Instagram to amplify their message. 

Girl Scouts also developed a free mobile application, Girl Scout Cookie Finder, that can be installed on iOS or Android devices. The application uses its GPS capability to find nearby cookie sales, formatted in either list or map form, across the United States and Puerto Rico. 

The application is meant to connect customers with Girl Scouts, especially those without direct contact to a local troop. For most Girl Scouts, this connection through cookies, no matter the form — online or in-person, allergen-friendly or not — remains a steadfast and motivational appeal of Girl Scouts.

People skills

Ella Rodriguez, a fifth grader, recently moved to Los Angeles and cites the sincerity and warmth during the Girl Scout cookie season as a reason that she joined her troop.

“When I moved here from New York, I really liked the fact that Girl Scouts get to help people and sell cookies. They work really hard, so I wanted to try, too,” Rodriguez said.

2019 is the first year of cookie sales for Vivien Blair, 6, and Maya Schutt, 7. A main reason that Blair joined Troop 17125 was in anticipation of selling cookies, and she is now equipped with skills from the Fall Product Program — where Girl Scouts sell nuts and candy — in preparation for the cookie kick-off.

“A lot of people I know are really excited about buying Girl Scout cookies. They were pretty excited about Fall Product, but they’re super excited and they can’t wait for when Girl Scout cookies season starts,” Blair said.

Girl Scouts earn badges through cookie sales, some depending on how many boxes girls can sell, so seven-year-old Schutt is similarly thrilled for the cookie season to begin. 

“I’m happy because I have never done it before, and I get to sell cookies. If I sell 500 cookie boxes, I get a badge!” Schutt said.

This combination of the Girl Scouts’ traditional recipe of success — reaching out to the community, selling cookies and earning badges — with the organization’s incorporation of 21st century change contributes to their overall success. Especially with potential bankruptcy looming over the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts’ adaptable philosophy highlights why, more than ever, keeping up with the times is the most delectable path forward.

Talia Abrahamson is a junior at Marlborough School.

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