Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Glad Notes: Making a (thin) mint - Girl Scout cookies in the USA
$786 million. I did not know that there is an app to find out when and where to get them. I also did not know that they weren't homemade cookies, but rather a specific brand made by two bakeries in the USA.
Originally, in the early 1900s, Girl Scout cookies were homemade. A recipe circa 1922 is available on the official website. But in 1933 the real tradition of the American Girl Scout Cookie was born, and where? Philadelphia!
The 1933 Philadelphia Girl Scouts outsourced their cookie baking to a local firm, Keebler bakery. Sales were so successful that in 1936 Girl Scouts of the USA contracted Keebler to bake cookies nationwide. There's even a plaque commemorating this in Philadelphia (not my photo but worth a look).By the 1950s there were three popular varieties of Girl Scout Cookie, all of which are still produced along with other recipes, and sold by wily American girls.
The most popular? Thin Mints. One in four boxes sold is a box of Thin Mints.
As baked goods go, Thin Mints are surprisingly mediocre. They look and taste mass-produced, just like Oreos, the defunct Twinkie, and that vital 'smore component, Graham crackers. A division of Keebler, Little Brownie bakery, remains as one of the two official Girl Scout Cookie bakeries. Keebler also produces Grasshopper cookies, which look suspiciously familiar but are not the same as the Girl Scout cookie. Thin Mints, again like Oreos and Graham Crackers, are actually vegan. Grasshoppers are not.
I understand why the youth movement no longer encourages homemade bake sales. And Girl Scouts of America and their two contracted bakeries are fairly open about the contents of the cookies, the use of palm oil, and the nutritional value (or lack thereof). They also say attempts to promote the sale of low fat/sugar-free confectionery failed.
In what I consider to be the true American culinary spirit of taking something unhealthy and making it less healthy, I have created a special treat using three US confectionery institutions: Thin Mints, Marshmallow Fluff, and Plantation Candy straws. Behold, Cookie Cloud Heaven, or something:
salubrity, are they?
I think Thin Mints serve a valuable purpose for young American women. I really do. These young girls must choose their cookie supplier, set the price, order stock and reach sales targets. I think that's pretty admirable. Never mind that they're ruining the post-holiday diets of the American populace.
Girl Scout Cookies are not available in the UK, primarily because the UK doesn't actually have Girl Scouts. Why's that, you ask? Well, you'll have to come back tomorrow to find out…