And That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles

Troop leader Jordan Burress breaks down the popular Girl Scout snack

’Tis the season for cookies – Girl Scout cookies, that is. Every year the Girl Scouts of America set out to sell them to friends, family and their community. The cookies aren’t just a nice treat for those who are snacking – the money from cookie sales goes directly to the troop of the Scout who sold them to you!

But there are still some mysteries behind the cookies: What happens during the time between placing and receiving my order? Why do we receive them at different times? What’s with the different cookie names?

To quench my curiosity, I sent a few questions to new troop leader Jordan Burress, who gives us the inside scoop on these annual treats.

Grace Johnson (GJ): You’re a new Girl Scout troop leader. What did you expect going into this position – especially around cookie-selling season, when everyone goes crazy?

Jordan Burress (JB): I am new – our troop started in January 2019. Cookies sales are crazy! People love their Girl Scout cookies and will find you to order from your daughter. Last year we had only four girls in our troop as the kindergarten Daisy troop at Gibraltar; this year, as first-graders, we combined with the kindergarteners and now we have 12. Each girl participated in cookie sales and enjoyed it. They all have a favorite cookie now.

GJ: Aside from buying cookies, many people don’t know the process behind the scenes. Can you explain the process of cookie orders? What happens after someone fills in the sheet? 

JB: Troop leaders have to attend a cookie training with the other leaders in the area. We receive all of the important information for each girl and her parents. This includes a permission slip for each girl that needs to be signed, safety tips and selling tips. Troop leaders have a deadline through our online ordering system to enter all of the cookies sold by each girl.

These numbers are then sent to ABC Bakers – that is the baker that our council receives cookies from. After a month or so, the cookies for all three Gibraltar troops as well as Washington Island are delivered on a semi truck to the Sister Bay fire station. We are so grateful to the fire department and Chris Hecht for allowing us the space to unload and sort all of the cookies!

Something I’ve learned: There are 12 packages of cookies in a case. All packages are rounded up to the case, so you end up with extras! I am definitely not an expert, but I have a great support system from leaders of the other two troops at Gibraltar (Sarah Martin, Anna Knapp, Connie Pahl, Carrie Smith, Deanna Reinhardt and, of course, my co-leader, Katie Blok). 

The girls also earn incentives based on the number of boxes they sell, and they see those incentives before they start selling. Incentives include cinch bags, a paid membership for the following year, patches, journal, and – for those who can sell more than you could ever imagine – there are higher-end prizes like laptops, AirPods or a trip to the G.I.R.L. Convention in Orlando. 

GJ: Why is it that people know some Girl Scout cookies by different names? Wouldn’t it help to clear up ordering confusion if it were uniform across the board?

JB: It is confusing, and it took me a minute to understand it. There are only two companies/bakers that make Girl Scout Cookies: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Wisconsin uses ABC Bakers, except for the troops in the Sheboygan area. Each baker has a slight variation on the taste, name and look of the cookie, but they are definitely similar. Each council around the U.S. has to spread out the cookie sales to accommodate the bakers, which is why your niece in Minnesota started selling in November and the kids in Door County didn’t start selling until January. 

GJ: I know when I was young and selling cookies, I was far too terrified to approach anyone about buying any. From a troop-leader perspective – and as the mother of a Girl Scout – do you see any positive impacts on the girls during the cookie-selling season?

JB: I absolutely see a change in the girls after they’ve sold cookies. I know that I work hard with my daughter to do the selling and talking, which then helps her with speaking to others and using her manners. I did help her out by asking friends and family if they would like a phone call from Avery, but after that, she made the calls and learned to have an actual phone conversation. It definitely makes the girls step out of their comfort zone, but I think it’s very important for them. 

GJ: And last – but definitely not least – what is your favorite cookie, and what seems to be the most popular cookie this year?

JB: My favorite is Thin Mints, and it always has been! I was a Girl Scout many, many years ago, and that has always been a favorite. The Thanks-A-Lot and Lemonades have seemed to be popular over the past few years; and then you have the classics like Caramel deLites and Peanut Butter Patties!

Pro tip: If you don’t know someone who sells Girl Scout cookies, have no fear! You can download the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app. It will tell you when and where you can buy cookies in your area.