(Originally appeared in The Beach Reporter on 3/11/93)
Stop me before I eat again. Just two days ago I received my order of eight boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and now I am staring at one lonely box of Trefoils. We always order one box of Trefoils (the plain shortbread ones) because we think of them as being good for you, as opposed to the ones with chocolate on them.
The Trefoils will get eaten tonight. But they won’t be as good as the Peanut Butter Patties, or Thin Mints, or Samoas that we ate in a two-day frenzy. I always say I’m just going to have one or two Thin Mints, but I can’t help myself. I always eat ten or twelve in one sitting.
I suppose I like Girl Scout cookies so much because you only get them once a year. If they were available year-round, I probably wouldn’t think twice about them. No cookie company has ever been able to exactly duplicate the crisp mintiness of a Thin Mint. So, since they are only available for a short time, I get this deprivation mentality, and I have to eat as many as I can.It also doesn’t help that my house this week has been filled with Girl Scout cookies, since our troop sold 579 boxes, and my house was the pickup spot. I didn’t volunteer to be Cookie Mom, but our Cookie Mom got pregnant and can’t even smell a Saltine without having to run to the bathroom. So I got the job through default.
Being Cookie Mom means that you collect the orders from the girls in the troop, turn the orders in to the council, pick up the cookies at a designated spot, bring them to your house, sort them into piles for each girl’s order, and call the moms to come pick them up.
I knew I had those two college degrees for a reason. This is exactly where I planned on being at forty – Cookie Mom for Troop 569.
Actually, the cookie saga began about a month ago when my daughter and her best friend decided that they had to sell 100 boxes so they could get this cheap tin necklace as a prize. To them, the necklace is a fabulous glittering reward for their hard work and perseverance.
They started out wanting to sell 350 boxes each, because the prize for that was a chintzy stuffed tiger. But I told them they would have to go door-to-door for two weeks straight. So 100 boxes became the goal.
There are always one or two girls in the troop who are the lucky ones. They have dads who bring the cookie form into work and sell 200 boxes. Then there are parents who can’t be bothered. They order ten boxes and nothing else. They also pick their order up late.
We, however did it the old-fashioned way. On the first day of the cookie sale, my daughter and her best friend donned their uniforms, and we hit the pavement. I even wore my Girl Scout leader’s jacket; a fabulous pale blue windbreaker with dorky patches plastered all over it.
Selling door-to-door in the 90s during a recession is an experience in itself. At least 99% of the people in the U.S. know and love the cookies. Who could slam the door in the earnest, innocent faces of two eight year-old?
We learned that if a man answered the door, he would always get his wife. Apparently it is an unwritten rule in most marriages that women make the decisions regarding cookie purchases.
We endured being jumped on by a rambunctious mutt named Rocky, while his owner perused the order form forever, and then ordered one box of thin mints. We laughed in the face of rejection, we did a group rap dance when someone ordered seven boxes. We got slap-happy after two days in a row and started giggling at everything. Eight year-olds giggle a lot anyway, but these two took giggling to a new level.
I usually hovered on the curb while the girls wen to the door and gave their sales pitch. The girls were sincere, professional, and energetic. If someone said they didn’t want anything because they were on a diet, they suggested the Shortbreads. If someone ordered just one box, they pitched them on another.
They saw firsthand how much work was involved in earning money for their troop. Not only in the order-taking, but in the organization and delivery.
There are Girl Scout troops all over the South Bay, Los Angeles, and the U. S. Some troops of older girls might sell as many as 8,000 boxes.
For the adults involved all it takes is time, patience, and commitment to children. And it doesn’t hurt if you love Thin Mints.