Cookie lovers rejoice. It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!
Young entrepreneurs are out and about this season, participating in the iconic cookie sale season, a tradition that’s been going strong for over 100 years.
“There are lots of logistics to getting the cookies to Juneau, but it always works,” said Leslie Ridle, CEO of Girl Scouts of Alaska, in a phone interview Friday.
Although she’s currently based in Anchorage, Ridle grew up on Douglas Island and had firsthand experience selling cookies in Juneau from her time as a local Girl Scout.
Ridle expects 228,000 boxes of cookies to make their way to families in Alaska during this year’s sale, which is a little lower than in past years. Local scouts will sell about 24,500 of those boxes in Juneau. Typically, Scouts in Juneau sell about 33,400 boxes of cookies.
“Last year, we ordered a normal amount of cookies and then had to shut down sales due to the pandemic,” she said. But, scouts resumed the sale late in the spring and persevered until June to sell all the boxes.
“This year, we knew about the pandemic, so we ordered fewer in January,” she said. However, she noted that online sales had snowballed this year through the Digital Cookie app. So far, 113 local people have purchased cookies online for delivery by a local Girl Scout or requested shipping to local zip codes.
“The folklore is that in hard times people buy more cookies. They are comforting, fun, and traditional. We see people want them,” Ridle said.
A program, not just a fundraiser
Ridle said the cookie sale is a program, not a fundraiser.
“The focus is to teach girls how to be entrepreneurs. It’s to focus on growing confidence and setting goals,” she said.
“It’s a girl-led program and helps fund everything they do,” Ridle said. “In surveys, adult women often say ‘my first job was selling Girl Scout cookies.’”
Girls earn awards for their efforts, including badges and prizes. They also learn new things.
“I am learning about counting money and using multiplication,” said local Scout Madelyn Prather, a Brownie in Troop 4046. “Sometimes I have to know how much money to give back in change.”
Money generated from the cookie sale helps to subsidize summer camp, is shared with local troops and is used for scholarships.
“All money stays in Alaska. Every box you buy directly does something for girls in Alaska. You are sending a girl to camp when you buy cookies,” Ridle said, noting that the council waived all fees this year to help families struggling through the pandemic.
The tradition of buying Girl Scout cookies is a ritual for many families. Nationally, there are two different bakers for Girl Scout cookies. Ridle said the Girl Scouts of Alaska have been using the same baker since 1968.
“A lot is history, tradition and what families like,” Ridle said.
“My favorite cookies are always Thin Mints, but the Lemon-Ups are my go-to as well,” Ridle said. “I love the lemony flavor and the shortbread combo. They are great dipped in coffee, and they travel well for camping.”
The Girls Scouts introduced the Lemon-Ups in 2020 as part of a strategy that rotates new flavors into the lineup, Ridle said.
Another newer variety, the S’mores cookie, takes the favorite position with Prather.
“My favorite cookie is the S’mores cookie. I like them because they are easier to eat than making s’mores on a fire,” Prather said.
Alaska’s top cookie
The tastes and preferences of Alaskans are slightly different than national norms. Across the country, top cookies are Thin Mints followed by Samoas and Tagalongs.
However, in Alaska, the top spot often goes to Samoas with Thin Mints and Tagalongs rounding out the top picks.
According to current sales figures provided by the Girl Scouts of Alaska in email, Thin Mint and Samoa sales are running neck-and-neck this season.
These numbers square with Prather’s experience.
“This year, I have sold more Thin Mints than other cookies,” Prather said. She noted that throughout her sales career, her customers usually make Thin Mints and Samoas her top sellers.
Ridle thinks durability on camping trips is a crucial driver of Alaskan cookie choices.
“The Thin Mints and Samoas freeze well and can go camping,” Ridle said. “Others get more fragile.”
How to find cookies
Ridle said that in Juneau, customers can find pop-up Girl Scout cookie stands at Safeway, Rainbow Foods, The Grind Coffee Company and Nugget Mall.
Or, text “cookies” to 59618 to find a nearby cookie sales location or to order cookies online.
Local scouts donate cookies
Two local Girl Scouts from Troop 4074 donated a variety of cookies to the Capital City Fire/Rescue staff in early March. An anonymous donor connected the scouts and firefighters to celebrate their shared mission of community service.
Donated cookies included several varieties, such as Thin Mints, Trefoils, Lemon-Ups, S’mores, Samoas, Do-Si-Dos and Tagalongs.
“We are very pleased that the Girl Scouts brought us packages of some of the tasty cookies they offer,” said Travis Mead, assistant fire chief at CCFR, in a news release. “We will distribute these packages to our five different fire stations in Juneau to ensure everyone gets cookies,” he added.
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at email@example.com or 907-308-4891.