Girl Scout Cookies, Then and Now

Menisa Marshall



by Julia Bache, Senior Girl Scout, Troop 375  

“What can a cookie do?”  This is the theme for this year's cookie sales, but Girl Scouts have been asking this question ever since they started selling cookies. As we know, a cookie has a lot of potential. It can raise money for council events, maintain our camps, help a troop complete a service project, or make a customer smile!

 In 1917, Girl Scout Cookies were baked in a high school cafeteria by a troop in Oklahoma. This was the first known cookie sale and it was a fundraiser for the troop's service project. The first official cookie sale was carried out in Pennsylvania in 1933 and soon spread to Girl Scouts all over the country. When one Toledo, Ohio troop held a cookie sale competition, the winner sold 215 dozen cookies. Her prize was a subscription to the Girl Scout magazine, The American Girl.

Cookie sales took a back seat during World War II, when sugar and other luxurious food items were rationed to help the war effort. Since cookie sales were major fundraisers for Girl Scouts, calendars were sold during this time to provide the money needed to keep the organization going.

 Booth sales are very common today, but did you know they started about six decades ago? It's true - in the 1950s, girls began selling cookies at tables in shopping malls. For most of the Girl Scout cookie history, each area had its own means of packaging. There were several different boxes, tins, and bags that Girl Scouts used.  The Louisville Area Council, as Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana was previously known, has used cookie boxes as packaging for over half a century. In March, 1954, a photo in the Courier-Journal featured local GirlScouts Dona Westray and Nancy Jane Hays promoting the cookie sale by posing with boxes of cookies.

Surprisingly, it wasn't until the '70s when the whole nation sold 'boxes' of cookies. These new boxes pictured Girl Scouts in action; girls were featured canoeing, hiking, etc. on the cookie boxes that customers bought from California to Connecticut. The 1970s was also the decade when patches for selling Girl Scout Cookies first appeared.

Girl Scout Cookies were first sold in Kentuckiana on February 14, 1929. A total of 2,000 packages were sold in the first campaign. When commercial bakeries started to make the cookies, they were sold by the dozen in brown paper bags. Below is a picture of Miss Dietrich from Troop 2 delivering a dozen cookies in a paper bag to the mayor of Louisville (circa 1927-1933.) Troop 2 and other local troops raised money through the cookie sale to help purchase Camp Shantituck.

 Like Miss Dietrich, girls today are selling cookies to reach their goals. Some Girl Scouts want to visit the World Centers in Mexico, Switzerland, England, and India. Others wish to donate boxes of cookies to our soldiers overseas or buy school supplies for children at the Home of the Innocents. Some girls also need the money raised to cover the costs of their Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards. Girl Scout Cookie Sales can help girls learn business skills, money management, and the practice of treating their customers with respect.

 In 1989, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana held its first Annual Council Cookie Event. Titled “Building for the 90s,” this event took place at Oxmoor Center. It featured  festivities such as cookie sculptures built by architects and a cookie stacking contest.

 Today, we still celebrate Girl Scout Cookies in many different ways. It has become popular to incorporate the cookies in other desserts. Dairy Queen's blizzard of the month has been a Tagalong Blizzard or a Thin Mint Blizzard. Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana has just held its sixth annual “Desserts First,” which features gourmet desserts with Girl Scout Cookies as the main ingredient.

One Girl Scout's Gold Award was based on cookies. She held a contest for the best Girl Scout Cookie dessert and also created some of her own. For some creative and delicious recipes, visit

This year, in celebration of its 100th Anniversary, Girl Scouts is introducing a brand new cookie, Savannah Smiles! These lemon wedge cookies with a little powdered sugar will remind Girl Scouts all over the country of Juliette Gordon Low and how she founded Girl Scouts in Savannah 100 years ago. 

As we look back at the first century of Girl Scouting and prepare for the next 100 years, we still promise to serve God and our country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law – with a little help from a Girl Scout Cookie. After all, a cookie has the power to do great things!



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