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Taking Girl Scout Cookies back to their origins

By C.W. Cameron / For the AJC

Troy Warren for Hometown Hall #picks-all #foodie-all

 

There are those who swear they get through the winter only because it brings the arrival of Girl Scout Cookies.

Was it just last year that glossy boxes of Tagalongs and Thin Mints beckoned from tables outside grocery stores, and you were tempted to order from the lists your colleagues circulated at the office? How are Girl Scout Cookie fans getting their fill now that COVID-19 has changed the way we live? Should we celebrate Girl Scout Sundaytoday by baking our own?

In Woodstock, Michele Samuel and her daughters, Leigha, 11, and Lundyn, 10, baked a 1922 recipe for the equivalent of the Trefoil, the classic shortbread cookie that’s been around since 1917. They chatted about the experience via Zoom after they finished.


 

They had gathered at their kitchen island to measure, stir, roll and decorate 24 cookies. Although Leigha declared the cookies tasted just like Trefoils, their cookies ended up shaped into hearts and circles, and decorated with frosting and sprinkles, reflecting a contemporary preference for bling.

Samuel, who leads the girls’ troop, was a Brownie and Girl Scout herself, and remembers the experience as enriching, and offering a way to give back to the community.


 

Their troop has remained active throughout the pandemic, meeting regularly and conducting monthly community service. For example, they delivered Valentine cards to essential workers and the children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.

Lundyn is the troop’s COVID-19 captain, sanitizing the room before every meeting, handing out hand sanitizer and masks, taking everyone’s temperature and reporting about the spread of the pandemic in their community.


 

When it came time to sell cookies this year, the troop dreamed up a drive-through cookie booth. They designed a banner that includes photos of the cookies, along with the prices. The booth has two windows that they use to hand over purchases safely.

The transactions are cashless, with payment via Venmo or Cash App. Girls staffing the booth wear masks and gloves. Two girls work in the booth while two others hold signs by the side of the road to entice people to drive through. It’s not unusual to have a line of cars waiting.


 

The girls also reached out to neighbors through the Nextdoor app, and include a flyer in every bag they send out from the booth. One customer called them after she saw the flyer, and ordered 60 boxes of cookies.

The troop expects to sell about 3,000 boxes of cookies this year. All proceeds from sales by Atlanta area troops stay in the area, with a portion coming back to the troop to support community efforts and activities.


 

Will they have a drive-through cookie booth next year? The girls said, “Yes.”

“People ask when are we going to get back to normal, but I think this just may be part of the new normal,” their mom added. “It just makes sense, and it’s safer for both the community and our girls.”

Over in Lawrenceville, Deanna Simmons gathered two of her granddaughters, Bryn Hammock, 17, an Ambassador Girl Scout, and Aubree White, 11, a junior Girl Scout, to bake that 1922 Trefoil recipe. “The cousins hadn’t seen each other since November, so we had a good time. Even though it was a mess, the end result was delicious,” Simmons said, shaking her head and laughing during a Facetime interview.


 

Simmons has been a part of Girl Scouts for 54 years. Her mom was one of her troop’s leaders, and Simmons remembers traveling to dads’ office buildings in downtown Atlanta to sell cookies. “They set us by the elevators, and we sold to everybody who came off. Cookies were 45 cents a box.”

Simmons’ daughters are troop leaders, and have been holding a mix of virtual and socially distanced meetings. “Aubree had a digital cookie site, where people could order to have cookies shipped, or to have a Scout deliver them,” she said.

Aubree also sent emails in the neighborhood, and to friends and family. Customers also could buy cookies to send to the military, and that went really well. She sold nearly 500 boxes.


 

Despite the pandemic, Simmons is so well-known in the area that, this time of the year, she finds herself being stopped by friends and acquaintances, hoping she’s got a box of cookies for them. “Everywhere I go, people are begging for cookies.”

If you’re still looking for Girl Scout Cookies, and don’t want to bake your own, go to showmethecookies.com and put in your zip code, to be directed to find a cookie booth sale near you, or to have cookies shipped to you.


 

Girl Scout Cookies

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of milk, but, after hearing the experiences of the Simmons and Samuel families, I decided to skip adding the milk. I added a pinch of salt, and also decided, given that this is a sticky dough, to turn this into a refrigerator cookie. The original directions called for the cookies to be rolled and cut out.


 

What are the best-selling Girl Scout Cookies of all time?

5. Trefoils ® /Shortbread ®


 

4. Do-si-dos®/Peanut Butter Sandwich ®


 

3. Peanut Butter Patties®/Tagalongs®


 

2. Caramel deLites®/Samoas®


 

1. Thin Mints®


 

–Information from girlscouts.org