Girl Scouts preserve fruits in response to food shortages, circa 1917.
For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts and their enthusiastic supporters have helped ensure the success of the iconic annual cookie sale—and they’ve had fun, developed valuable life skills, and made their communities a better place every step of the way.
Girl Scouts preserve fruits in response to food shortages, circa 1917.
Girl Scout Cookies were originally home baked by girl members with moms volunteering as technical advisers. The sale of cookies to finance troop activities began as early as 1917, five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts in the United States. The Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.
Girl Scout Cookie box, 1930s.
In 1933, Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia Council baked cookies and sold them in the city’s gas and electric company windows. The price was just 23 cents per box of 44 cookies, or six boxes for $1.24. Girls developed their marketing and business skills and raised funds for their local Girl Scout council. A year later, Greater Philadelphia took cookie sales to the next level, becoming the first council to sell commercially baked cookies.
In 1935, the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York raised money through the sale of commercially baked cookies. The group bought its own die in the shape of a trefoil and used the words “Girl Scout Cookies” on the box. In 1936, the national Girl Scout organization began the process of licensing the first commercial bakers to produce cookies that would be sold nationwide by girls in Girl Scout councils.
Enthusiasm for Girl Scout Cookies spread, and by 1937, more than 125 Girl Scout councils reported holding cookie sales.
Cookie ad from Girl Scout National Council Session program, 1953.
In 1951, Girl Scout Cookies came in three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread, and Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints®). With the rise of the suburbs in postwar America, girls began selling Girl Scout Cookies at tables in shopping malls.
Five years later, Girl Scouts were selling four basic types of cookies: a vanilla-based filled cookie, a chocolate-based filled one, shortbread, and a chocolate mint. Some bakers also offered another optional flavor.
Girl Scout Juniors sell new cookies, circa 1973.
In 1978, the number of bakers was streamlined to four to ensure lower prices and uniform quality, packaging, and distribution. For the first time in history, all cookie boxes—regardless of the baker—featured the same designs and depicted scenes of Girl Scouts in action, including hiking and canoeing. And in 1979, the brand-new, Saul Bass–created Girl Scout logo appeared on cookie boxes, which became even more creative and promoted the benefits of Girl Scouting.
Girl Scout Cookies for sale during the 1970s included Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos®, and Shortbread/Trefoils® cookies, plus four additional choices.
Girl Scout volunteers teach a Girl Scout Brownie and Girl Scout Junior about the Girl Scout Cookie sale, circa 1990s.
In the early 1990s, two licensed bakers supplied local Girl Scout councils with cookies for girls to sell, and by 1998, this number had grown again to three. Eight cookie varieties were available, including low-fat and sugar-free selections.
GSUSA also introduced official age-appropriate awards for Girl Scout Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors, including the Cookie Activity pin, which was awarded for participating in the cookie sale.
Girl Scouts embrace the technological age using the Digital Cookie platform to sell cookies online.
With the announcement of National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend (the next one is February 18-20, 2022) and the introduction of the very first gluten-free Girl Scout Cookie, the decade was off to a big start. But the really big news was the launch of the Digital Cookie® platform in 2014. A fun, safe, and interactive space for girls to sell cookies, Digital Cookie takes the iconic cookie program digital and introduces Girl Scouts to vital twenty-first-century lessons about online marketing, app usage, and ecommerce. But most importantly, Digital Cookie retains the one-to-one personal approach to selling that is essential to the success of the program and the girls who participate.
A Girl Scout sells cookies door-to-door, 1928.
In July 1922, The American Girl magazine, published by Girl Scouts of the USA, featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois, including a cookie recipe that had been given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six to seven dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen.
Throughout the decade, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country continued to bake their own simple sugar cookies with their mothers and with help from the community. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door-to-door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.
Girl Scouts plan for their Girl Scout Cookie sale, 1940s.
Girl Scout Cookies were sold by local councils around the country until World War II, when sugar, flour, and butter shortages led Girl Scouts to pivot, selling the first Girl Scout calendars in 1944 as an alternative to raise money for activities.
After the war, cookie sales increased, and by 1948, a total of 29 bakers were licensed to bake Girl Scout Cookies.
Girl Scouts show off their Girl Scout Cookie display, 1960.
During the 1960s, as Baby Boomers expanded Girl Scout membership, cookie sales increased significantly. Fourteen licensed bakers were mixing batter for thousands upon thousands of Girl Scout Cookies annually. And those bakers began wrapping Girl Scout Cookie boxes in printed aluminum foil or cellophane to protect the cookies and preserve their freshness.
By 1966, a number of varieties were available. Among the best sellers were Chocolate Mint, Shortbread, and Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies.
Girl Scout Cookie sale, 1983.
In 1982, four bakers still produced a maximum of seven varieties of cookies—three mandatory (Thin Mint, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos, and Shortbread/Trefoils) and four optional. Cookie boxes depicted scenes of Girl Scouts in action.
Girl Scout Daisies get in on the fun, and learning, that comes with selling Girl Scout Cookies.
Early in the twenty-first century, every Girl Scout Cookie had a mission. New cookie box designs, introduced in fall of 2000, were bold and bright, capturing the spirit of Girl Scouting. Two licensed bakers produced a maximum of eight varieties, including three that were mandatory (Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos, and Shortbread/Trefoils). All cookies were kosher. And much to the excitement of the youngest Girl Scouts, Daisies started selling cookies.
Cookie-loving consumers across the country get a great big taste of deliciousness with new Adventurefuls™.
Who can forget the amazing moment in 2016 when Girl Scouts took the stage at the Academy Awards to sell cookies to Hollywood’s A-list? It was a stellar beginning to the nationwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts selling cookies. That continued with the introduction of Girl Scout S’mores®, which quickly became the most popular new cookie to launch in our history. And in 2020, our already iconic cookies reached a new level of awesome with new packaging that puts Girl Scout Cookie entrepreneurs front and center and showcases all of the amazing things girls learn and do—through the Girl Scout Cookie Program and as Girl Scouts. The Cookie Entrepreneur Family pin collection that makes selling Girl Scout Cookies a family affair was also introduced in 2020.
In 2021, all Girl Scout Cookies are both kosher and Halal certified. There are vegan and gluten-free varieties too.
In 2022, Girl Scouts across the country will begin selling a new Girl Scout Cookie. Adventurefuls™, brownie-inspired cookies topped with caramel flavored crème and a hint of sea salt will take the joys of buying and eating Girl Scout Cookies to a whole new level.
As always, the true purpose behind Girl Scout Cookies remains the same. All proceeds stay with local councils and troops to power amazing experiences year-round for Girl Scouts.