Girl Scout Cookies Aren't Even That Good, You Guys

Categories: Talking Points

I'm not going to pretend otherwise: Last week when a package arrived full of Girl Scout cookies, I squealed like a schoolgirl, then immediately bragged about my good fortune on various social networks. I wasn't the only one with an outsize reaction: Within 10 minutes, SF Weekly staffers had savagely torn into the boxes in a desperate bid to try every flavor, leaving a trail of cookie crumbs in their wake. For the next two days, I had the most popular desk in the newsroom -- no one walking past could resist snagging one or two, often five or six.

And yet after nibbling on several dozen, I realized an uncomfortable truth: Girl Scout cookies aren't actually that good. Certainly no better than the cookies you find in the supermarket. What causes this halo effect that leads otherwise reasonable adults to act like greedy children in the face of those brightly colored boxes?

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I started with the cookies themselves, hoping that close analysis would yield some clue to their popularity. Thin Mints are by far the most popular flavor -- last year, 1.3 million boxes were sold in Northern California alone -- but they're kind of dry and crumbly, though the minty flavor is admittedly refreshing. Samoas have always been my personal favorite -- they're coconutty and chocolately and caramely, but they're also tooth-achingly sweet, and eating more than one made me feel sick to my stomach. Tagalogs are okay, but if I want sugary, low-quality chocolate and peanut butter, I'd rather have a Reese's.

The rest of line is decidedly unimpressive. Trefoils are the most boring of the bunch, and don't have any of the decadent buttery flavor that the "traditional shortbread" description on the box would lead you to expect. Do-si-dos reminded me of the stale, off-brand sandwich cookies my dad used to buy for my elementary school lunches. Same with Savannah Smiles, which had a bright lemon flavor but not much else going for them. And the new cookies were no one's favorite: Thank U Berry Much tasted vaguely medicinal; Dulce de Leche were way too saccharine.

So again, what makes thousands of adults collectively lose their shit every time "Girl Scout cookie season" rolls around?

First, it must have a lot to do with scarcity: If the quantity of something is limited, people want it more. So the fact that you can only get Thin Mints until March 17 -- even if you can make them yourself, even if you can get a reasonable facsimile in the supermarket made by the same bakery -- means that people will stockpile them.

Then there's the nostalgia factor. The Girl Scouts of America have done an admirable job adapting their organization to the times -- cookie booths now accept credit and debit cards; there are badges for things like financial literacy, digital movie-making, and "netiquette" along with the more traditional ones -- but at their heart the Girl Scouts espouse the same values they did for your mother and grandmother. Nearly 60 million women in America today are Girl Scout alumnae, with all the accompanying warm-and-fuzzy feelings toward the organization.

Which must be at the heart of their enduring popularity. The flavor of the cookies themselves is ultimately inconsequential, because as the newly redesigned boxes remind us over and over, Girl Scout cookies are not just about cookies. Selling those $4 boxes "helps girls develop 5 skills that they use throughout their lives: goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills, and business ethics." Proceeds from their sale go to funds for the Girl Scouts as well as charitable organizations. You're not just buying dessert: You're buying into a whole vision of modern life.

And at the end of the day, it's hard to say no to an earnest Girl Scout in a uniform, especially one with poise and confidence. Have we bought so many boxes over the years that we've brainwashed ourselves into thinking the cookies are the best things ever, even if they're kind of mediocre? It's quite possible. But on my honor, I will keep buying them just the same.

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58 comments
John LaForgia
John LaForgia

...missing the point... No, they aren't very good, but that's not the reason to buy them. Cancer awareness wrist bands aren't that great looking, but that's not the reason you buy/wear them either.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Next week in SF Weekly: "Your child's art is really not that good."

Whitney Leigh Delk
Whitney Leigh Delk

Probably written by the same jerks who wait 5 hours in line for an $11 pint of Pliny the younger, which isn't even that good, you guys. Yes, thems is fightin' words.

Whitney Leigh Delk
Whitney Leigh Delk

Safeway does actually make knockoffs of them. I had the "chocolate coconut cookie" *ahem* Samoas, recently. They were just as good if not better and were half the price. But GS cookies are a great fundraiser for these girls so it's hard to really knock it. Besides, it's always been for the novelty of it, not the actual quality of the product. Gimme a break.

Dominik Zelichowski
Dominik Zelichowski

what about the palm oil and gmos?? I can't believe you didn't even mention that in this article #sfweekly #girlscoutcookies #GMO #Palmoil #rainforestdestruction

Angel Castrillo-Jones
Angel Castrillo-Jones

The reason Girl Scouts sell cookies is because the government won't fund them, while it has no problem funding the bigoted Boy Scouts. So they may not be the best cookies, but they certainly prove where the government stands in bigotry and misogyny.

Emanuel White
Emanuel White

Sorry, sf weekly. No one gives a fudge cookie what you think.

Margy Green
Margy Green

they aren't what they used to be. have forgotten original names for some cookies that have changed, but they have an empty taste compared to years ago. Few yrs since got any, but restricted to 1 type instead of several, as those others have lost something. MOSTLY though, I don't eat partially hydrogenated oils and avoid GMO's now.

Trina Perry
Trina Perry

I stood there waiting for my change and those cute little girls looked at me and sweetly asked I'd like ANOTHER box. I said, "okay:-)!"

Cynthia McGarvie
Cynthia McGarvie

You realize that there are two baking companies that make distinct lines of Girl Scout Cookies, right? Unless you've tried cookies from both ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Cookies, then STFU.

Leslie West
Leslie West

Of all the things to hate and criticize, your down to Girl Scouts fundraising with cookies for their selected causes, building the good will and character of girls. SF reaching a new low.

Lisa Baker
Lisa Baker

Love me some Thin Mints. Not a fan of the rest, though.

Lilia Ahner
Lilia Ahner

Slow news day? You have to put down the Girl Scouts and their cookies? Boo!

Mel Greene
Mel Greene

Are you insane? Come on...Thin Mints are the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hiram Rodriguez
Hiram Rodriguez

That's because no "girl scout" actually bakes these. It's just like buying a box of cookies at Safeway.

Robert Penman
Robert Penman

See. The negativity of SF Weekly can't even be swayed by the warm hearted feeling of supporting the Girl Scouts. Yet they LOVE "Looking," which is a shitty show. I just can't with you guys anymore.

GreenCat Tom Scalzi
GreenCat Tom Scalzi

Samoas for the win:-) That caramelly chocolate coconut deliciousness. Mmmmmmmmmm:-)

Cody Brunst
Cody Brunst

There are better "girl scout cookies" to be had in the Bay Area. Samoas are dece tho

Bigg Shelf
Bigg Shelf

where do u get ur shithead writers?...

Nancee Hall
Nancee Hall

Well, *I'm* sorry you are unable to appreciate the incredible, addictive, minty chocolate mintness that are Thin Mints. May God or Whomever is In Charge have mercy on your souls. Unless - perhaps you're soulless robots?! Also, Trefoils. Dipped in milk. Case closed.

Lori Glumac
Lori Glumac

And they aren't even made from real Girl Scouts. Lame.

Robert Scalzi
Robert Scalzi

whatev's, I could eat a case of the Trefoils.

Haley Mostofi
Haley Mostofi

Thin mints are! You're right about the rest tho

trailrunmarcus
trailrunmarcus

Only in SF.. No, they're not the 'best things ever'. And they're not organic / local / non-GMO / made with Straus milk in a glass bottle / made by a cooperative... But they're decent and it's about supporting the Girl Scouts.

And it is difficult ignoring earnest Girl Scouts in uniform standing outside the cold, foggy Glen Park BART station. Besides, freezing the Thin Mints and crumbling them over organic, local, non-GMO Straus vanilla bean ice cream is the best.

Rtheykidding
Rtheykidding

Whats up with calling a fattening cookie 'Thin Mints'?????? Thin Mints consist of a crispy, chocolate cookie wafer covered with peppermint oil-infused dark chocolate, is not a recipe for thin.

caitsanfran
caitsanfran

Great article! You are spot on - the cookies aren't the greatest, but in the end it's about helping the girls! I hope people aren't missing the point here. You state you will continue to support the Girl Scouts by purchasing their cookies.

laddmary
laddmary

It is the nostalgia and scarcity factors with the good cause halo that causes people to freak out. I was a girl scout and killed it with the sales but haven't bought any in years. (The girl scouts I know live too far away to make a purchase viable. I have been known to buy at BART stations and in front of grocery stores). The girl scouts have built a great sales empire so I doubt anything will change but it is brave to note that the cookies aren't that tasty.

Karl Wilder
Karl Wilder

I can't find them in NY or I would get thin mints to eat in March.

Michelle Suttle
Michelle Suttle

I was a Girl Scout for years and every year I would sell hundreds of dollars worth of these things. My poor parents would have to take the order forms to work and then later haul all those darn cookies around. For a month every year our front hall looked like a store room with boxes of stacked cookies and they just tasted like wax to me. I really hope that my daughter doesn't choose to do scouts and maybe joins another organization, but if she does there is no doubt that I will get my pay back for making my parents suffer cookie sales

Karl Wilder
Karl Wilder

The Thin Mints are addictive but objectively, they are not good cookies.

Roo Grubis
Roo Grubis

Good. Someone had to say it. Never understood the love for the mediocre things.

Anna  Lee
Anna Lee

I've officially lost all respect for SFoodie.

Malu Austin
Malu Austin

Is this some kind of boycott to those little kids? Such a bad character thing to do...

Malu Austin
Malu Austin

Are u kidding? Is there any other cookie with coconut, caramel AND chocolate? :D

Paul Varga
Paul Varga

I pass them by, go into Safeway and buy twice as much for the same amount of money. Support the Girl Scouts if you like but I'm about the value. The Samoas Keebler makes taste the same.

lola
lola

@Michelle Suttle

I am the proud mother of two Girl Scouts. Yes, both my husband and I take orders from every single person we know...our haul this year was 489 boxes. Even though its an effort and after a long day at work and other responsibilities we deliver and  attend cookie site sales,etc. I wouldn't trade it for the values and  lessons my daughters are learning. Girl Scouts are one if not the only organization that teaches girls as young as five years old how to be a responsible member of their community...their mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Its too bad you wouldn't encourage and want your daughter to be a part of such an organization. Good luck finding one that mirrors the experience.

DIYplease
DIYplease

@lola What exactly does your selling cookies for her teach your daughter about courage, confidence and character?

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