Girl Scout Cookies and what to know about the $800M business

About 200 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies are sold every year

Thursday is National Girl Scout Day, in honor of when the organization was founded back in 1912.

Though there are countless projects and initiatives for the 1.7 million Girl Scouts and 750,000 adults in the organization, one of the best known -- and most beloved -- is the Girl Scout Cookie program.

However, the first time Girl Scouts sold cookies was in 1917, when a troop in Oklahoma sold homemade cookies at their high school for a service project, according to the Girl Scout website.


The practice became more widespread in 1922 when a Chicago-based Girl Scout director published a cookie recipe in the organization’s magazine and advised selling cookies for between 25 and 30 cents per dozen, the website said.

Girl Scouts paused selling cookies during World War II because of sugar, flour and butter shortages and instead sold calendars.

But after the war, the cookies returned and sales continued to increase over the years, the website said.


Today, Girl Scout Cookies outsell other brands including Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Milano during cookie-selling season, Vox reported last year.

The 2020 Girl Scout Cookie season launched nationally in January.

Here are five other things to know about Girl Scout cookies on the 108th anniversary of the organization.

Cookie-selling season lasts only a few weeks

According to the Girl Scout website, troops, or councils, sell their cookies for between six and eight weeks every year, typically between January and April. Each council chooses exactly when their cookie-selling season will be.

The season is so short so that Girl Scouts can participate in other activities during the rest of the year, the website said.

They started selling them online in 2014

Though Girl Scout Cookie fans used to be limited to in-person purchases, the organization launched a digital platform in 2014.

Now Girl Scouts who are selling cookies through the platform can make personalized websites, mobile apps, ecards or links for people to buy cookies online, the website said.


There are currently 12 cookie varieties

In the 1950s, there were three types of cookies called Sandwiches, Shortbread and Chocolate Mints -- today known as Thin Mints. Throughout the years, the number of cookie varieties has changed, but this year there are 12 varieties, according to the website.

Those varieties include Thin Mints, Samoas (or Caramel deLites), Tagalongs (or Peanut Butter Patties), Do-si-dos (or Peanut Butter Sandwiches), Trefoils (or Shortbread), Thanks-a-Lot, Toffee-tastic, Caramel Chocolate Chip, Lemonades, Lemon-Ups and two versions of Girl Scout S’mores.

This year, Lemon-Ups are new to the Girl Scout Cookie market.

Some cookies are different depending on where you get them

Today, there are two licensed commercial bakers who produce Girl Scout Cookies: ABC Bakers and Little Brown Bakers. Each Girl Scout council chooses a baker and depending on which baker your council chose, your cookie could have a different name or be made with a different recipe, according to the website.

The cookies that have the same names across bakers are Thin Mints and Girl Scout S’mores, which do have different recipes.

Girl Scout cookie sales reach $800 million a year

According to the organization, Girl Scouts sell $800 million a year, which is about 200 million boxes of cookies per season.

The most popular cookie is the Thin Mint, followed by Samoas (or Caramel deLites) and Tagalongs (or Peanut Butter Patties).

The money that Girl Scouts make from cookie sales stays local, the website said. The money is spent on activities and community projects for the girls, as each council determines.