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What are Girl Scout Cookies®?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Girl Scout Cookies® are boxed cookies sold by the youth scouting association Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) to raise funds for the organization. The founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, started the concept of selling cookies as a fundraising activity when Girl Scouts® baked cookies from their homes and sold them door to door in the 1920s and 1930s. The recipe used was for basic sugar cookies made with butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Before baking, the cookie dough was rolled out and cut with a trefoil-shaped cookie cutter. Trefoil is a three-leafed plant and is the symbol of the Girl Scouts®.

The first commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies® were sold at a district or council level in 1934 in Philadelphia and on a national level in 1936 when commercial bakers were licensed to bake the cookies. ABC®, owned by George Weston Limited®, and Little Brownie®, connected with the Keebler® company and owned by Kellogg®, are the two main licensed bakers for the GSUSA. Each local Girl Scout council chooses what each box of cookies will sell for and what time of year it will sell the cookies at shopping malls and other venues in person in its community. Many councils sell Girl Scout Cookies® between January and April. Since the GSUSA's purpose in selling the cookies is for fundraising as well as teaching the Girl Scouts® business and fundraising skills, the cookies are not sold in stores or online.

Thin Mints® are the biggest-selling variety of Girl Scout Cookies® and account for about 25 percent of total cookie sales. They are chocolate-coated, chocolate wafer cookies with a peppermint flavor. Four Thin Mints® have 160 calories and 8 grams of fat. Although Girl Scout® councils can choose which cookies to sell from many different varieties, they must sell Thin Mints® as well as Shortbreads®/Trefoils® and Peanut Butter Sandwiches®/Dosi-Dos®.

Shortbreads®/Trefoils® use the same basic cookie recipe, but are called Trefoils® when baked by Little Brownie® and Shortbreads® when baked by ABC®. They have a buttery flavor and a ripple-textured pattern within the Girl Scout® trefoil shape. Four of these Girl Scout® shortbread cookies have 120 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches®/Dosi-Dos® are also made with the same basic recipe by two different licensed Girl Scout bakers. Two crispy oatmeal cookies sandwich a smooth peanut butter filling. Little Brownie®'s version is Dosi-Dos®, while the name Peanut Butter Sandwiches® signifies cookies baked by ABC®.

Other top selling Girl Scout Cookies® include Samoas®/Caramel deLites®, and Peanut Butter Patties®/Tagalongs®. Baked by Little Brownie® as Samoas® and ABC® as Caramel deLites®, these donut-shaped cookies have a topping of caramel and toasted coconut with stripes of chocolate added. Two cookies have 140 calories and 7 grams of fat. Peanut Butter Patties® by ABC® and Tagalongs® by Little Brownie® are chocolate-coated and feature a vanilla cookie with a top layer of peanut butter. Two of these Girl Scout Cookies® have 150 calories and 8 grams of fat.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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