Sunday, March 3, 2024

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES: History and Recipes

GIRL SCOUT COOKIE TIME! My husband just texted me from the market to ask if I wanted any Girl Scout Cookies. Duh, yeah! Of course I wanted Thin Mints, my favorite! Frank bought two boxes. That will never be enough, but he tried. 

I was both a Brownie and a Girl Scout. As a Brownie and Girl Scout, I trudged around selling cookies door to door by myself. There were no cookies being sold on street corners, nor were there any fathers (or mothers) coercing colleagues or employees to buy multiple boxes, although in retrospect, my father as a pediatrician, could have sold a lot of boxes for me. No, we were responsible for the sale and the delivery of those boxes of cookies. Since I wanted to sell a lot in order to be the 'highest' seller in my area (which I never was), I remember going very far afield one year. My mother actually had to help me deliver all the cookies I sold, especially because she was so astounded by how far afield I had gone. We lived in the city, where neighborhoods changed block by block. No matter, it never occurred to me not to knock on any and every  door. Good thing I didn't read adult mysteries or watch the news then. I must have been a Brownie at that time, because I was only a girl scout after we moved to the suburbs. So when I started selling Girl Scout Cookies, I had to be about 8. Times were different. I wore my uniform and with that I was fearless. Kind of like superwoman only my costume was more modest. Still it protected me! In those times, it was all about selling the most cookies, not worrying about the deviant at the door. I got through my sales unscathed except for the development of my fondness for Chocolate Mint Cookies (now Thin Mints). Yum! Thin Mints make up over 26% of Girl Scout Cookies sales. No surprise to me. 

A little history of the Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low rounded up her first troop on March 12, 1912, a time when few women held jobs and only six states allowed them to vote. "Girl Scouting from its inception was forward-looking. Although it was  rooted in domesticity, it always opened further paths to women."

The first Girl Scout handbook, published in 1913, encouraged girls to shoot rifles and gave instructions for tying up intruders. My kind of group! The original Scouts took camping trips and played basketball on outdoor courts shrouded from public view by curtains hung so that men couldn't glimpse the girls in their bloomers. O.K., I'm not much for group sports, but luckily by my time that wasn't necessary since we had gym in school. Outdoor activity also included gardening, and learning the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms was in the first handbook. Good to know.

Lest you think that the first Girl Guides in the US (later changed to the Girl Scouts) were not also being trained to be wives and mothers, Juliette Gordon Low had the Girls learn about cooking and preserving food. She wanted them to know how to run a sterile kitchen. She taught about nursing—taking care of invalids and sick children—and sewing. Anything that a wife and mother should do she thought she could train her girls to do better.

Low understood how it was possible that any woman might find herself in the situation of needing to take care of herself. So, she emphasized career training for girls. Some of the early badges were about flying, typing, telegraph skills and farming.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was a Girl Scout, as was Laura Bush. Barbara Walters, Peggy Fleming, Venus Williams, and Mariah Carey all wore Girl Scout uniforms, as did at least seven astronauts, current and former members of Congress, and numerous executives and CEOs. I'm proud to count myself within the ranks! 

Girl Scout Cookies

The first cookie sales by an individual Scout unit was by the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma in December 1912. In 1922, the Girl Scout magazine The American Girl suggested cookie sales as a fund-raiser and provided recipes. The first Girl Scout cookie recipe was a sugar cookie

Early Girl Scout Sugar Cookie® Recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.

In 1934, Girl Scout Cookies went commercial when the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia Council (my council, but not my time) became the first council to sell commercially baked cookies in the city's gas and electric company windows. By 1937, over 125 councils nationwide held cookie sales, with the trefoil-shaped Shortbread as the first official Girl Scout Cookie. Cookie Sales taught girls leadership and life skills such as entrepreneurship, money management and goal setting.

Despite flour, butter, and sugar shortages caused by World War II, the Girl Scout Cookie program prevailed. In 1942 there were 48 cookies per box, available in either vanilla or chocolate. Customers were limited to two boxes during some war years.

In 1951, two other Girl Scout Cookies were introduced to the world—in addition to Shortbreads, the public could also purchase Cream-filled Sandwiches and in 1954 Chocolate Mints (now called Thin Mints) were introduced. Some bakeries even offered optional flavors to their respective councils.

And I found this great sign on etsy that I must have.

Of course, I just have to post another recipe here--Thin Mint Truffles from The Hungry Housewife. This recipe calls for a final coating of cookie crumbs, but you can also dip the truffles in dark chocolate with chocolate sprinkles or roll them in cocoa.

Thin Mint Truffles

1/2 box of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies (1 sleeve) + 3 cookies
4 oz Cream Cheese, softened

In food processor, process 1 sleeve Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies until they resemble course sand.
Transfer mixture to large bowl and add cream cheese. Mix together by hand until fully incorporated. Scoop out by tablespoon (or use small scoop) and roll into nice ball in your hands to form truffles.
Pulse extra 3 cookies in the food processor until resembles course sand and place in small bowl. Roll truffles in processed cookie crumbs to coat.
Chill coated truffles for at least hour to set up.... or overnight for flavors to really develop with the cream cheese.

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