Excuse me for noticing - because I wish them only great success and many merit badges -
but when was the last time you bought a Girl Scout cookie from an actual girl?
When I was a Brownie, which is, of course, the Girl Scout farm team, we put on our sashes
and peddled our Do-Si-Dos door-to-door. Our parents were not part of the sales force.
Family first, then neighbors
This is not to say that our families were not pulled into the cookie net. We hit the
streets only after practicing on our grandparents and aunts and uncles. My mom once agreed to
be a delivery station, or as they now are called, a Cookie Cupboard. This is an experience
she'd like to repeat about as much as she'd like to be in a high wind without a hairnet.
Samoas and Trefoils were stacked to the ceiling in our family room along with a shoe box
full of money. Nobody was bonded, and we did not have a home security system. It was a more
By the way, selling Girl Scout cookies is absolutely no preparation for selling anything
else. Everybody buys. For good reason. It's a dependable product at a fair price and has been
for 60 years.
Girl Scout cookies cost $2.50 a box. You get an honest serving, and they taste just like
they did back when I was dunking them into milk instead of coffee. And here is the best news:
The kids get to keep most of the money.
For every box of cookies sold, the Great Rivers Girl Scout Council gets $1.70, according
to Roni Luckenbill, assistant executive director. We are talking some major money here. The
sales goal for this year is 1.6 million boxes.
Across the river, the Licking River Girl Scouts hope to flog 322,000 boxes with about the
same profit margin, but with a different baker, the Little Brownie Co. of Louisville.
Great Rivers switched just this year to ABC Bakers in Richmond, Va., the only other
official Girl Scout cookie vendor. Ms. Luckenbill says ''ABC offered more marketing
So I called the ABC marketing specialist, Sylvia Flores, to find out what that means.
First off, she doesn't call them cookies. She calls them a ''niche product,'' and as near as I
can figure out, mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and cousins are the ''internal
market'' and everybody else is the external market. She also talked about communication and
''real energy and cohesiveness,'' but I sort of fogged out after a while.
Maybe she should meet my brother, who was my marketing consultant. He told me that if
somebody said they didn't want any cookies, I should cry. And that my optimum sales period was
right before dinner. ''That way they'll be hungry and buy more,'' he counseled. He also told
me to carry around an open box with an assortment of cookies and give one or two to ''the
fattest person in the house.''
And speaking of the fattest person in the house, I sampled one of all six kinds of ABC
cookies, just to make sure they were up to Little Brownie standards. They were, and according
to the labels, it cost me 469 calories, 175 from fat, to find out.
Diet cookies and the Internet
There are two diet cookies, the Strawberries 'n Creme, billed as reduced fat, and the
Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Bars, which are fat-free. Both taste like something you're eating
because you don't have the self-confidence to eat a real cookie. Kentucky's low-fat Snaps are
better, if you must eat light.
Overall, if you care, I would recommend the Thin Mints and the Caramel de Lites (known as
Samoas in Kentucky) and have already ordered mine from co-workers and neighbors. Cookies will
be delivered this week, and they'll also be on sale until mid-March at booths outside Kroger
and Thriftway stores.
The truth is, most people don't want their little girls out knocking on strange doors.
A Boston troop and one in Hawaii have put their cookies on the Internet, and their
virtual Girl Scout cookie stores will be taking orders and shipping them out through the end
of March. Myself, I prefer to put my money right here in our own internal Greater Cincinnati
and Northern Kentucky market.
Even if I never see an actual Scout.
Laura Pulfer's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or
fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 MHz), and as a regular
commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.