What you may not know is that this is National Girl Scout Week, March 6 through March 12, celebrating the organization's 93rd birthday. So be sure to wish the girls well as you receive your Lemon Coolers this month.
The phases of cookie sales
Founded in Savannah, Ga. in 1912, the Girls Scouts of America have approximately 2.8 million female members and almost another 1 million adult volunteers. More than 50 million American women enjoyed Girl Scouting during their childhood. In 1950, the Girl Scouts were chartered by the U.S. Congress as an American institution.
According to Janice Lilien, executive director and CEO at the Greater Essex and Hudson Counties Girl Scout headquarters based in Montclair, Hudson County alone has 730 Girl Scout Troops with over 10,000 members.
"The troops have just completed their first phase of the cookie programs," said Lilien. "Orders were taken starting around January 8 and the first truck loads of cookies arrived on Saturday [Feb. 26]."
For the week of Feb. 26 through March 5, the cookies are delivered by the truckload to local distribution centers, being shipped directly from Little Brownie Bakers in Louisville, Ky. or ABC Bakers in Richmond, Va., the two exclusive bakeries of the Girls Scouts' cookies.
According to Lilien, that week constitutes the second phase of the program. With orders taken from early in January through the end of February and with deliveries to distribution centers at the start of March, the third, and best tasting phase - the deliveries - began last week.
Perhaps the most invigorating phase, however, occurs in the middle of the program when troop leaders and Scouts must coordinate the picking up of their troops' respective orders to be taken home for delivery. During this phase, the thousands of boxes of cookies must be sorted, grouped by troop, and then separated for each individual Girl Scout.
In Secaucus, the First Reform Church on Center Avenue serves as the town distribution center. Sometimes the troops even hold their meetings at the churches with most troops meeting once a week or once every other week.
"The are three churches [in Secaucus] that sponsor our Girl Scout troops and donate their spaces for related activities," said Karen Shkop, the service unit manager for the Secaucus Cookie Program.
Shkop, who is also a Junior and Senior Cadets Girl Scout leader, had the finally tally on cookie sales this year as she, along with the troop Cookie Managers, was the one of the main leaders responsible for arranging the delivery and aiding in the distribution of the tasty snacks.
Shkop said that it took a few hours to sort and unpack the 616 cases (or 7,392 boxes) of Girl Scout cookies that arrived at the First Reform Church, with 12 boxes of cookies per case.
And the cookie goes to...
So what was the most popular cookie?
This year, the Girl Scouts went door to door selling eight different types of cookies: Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, Allabouts, Tagalongs, Lemon Coolers, and Double-Dutch.
The official website for the Girl Scouts of the USA (www.girlscouts.org) lists the traditional best sellers of the cookie program. According to that site the national breakdown looks something like this:
25 percent - Thin Mints
19 percent - Samoas/Caramel deLites
13 percent - Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs
11 percent - Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos
9 percent - Shortbread/Trefoils
When selling the cookies, the Girl Scouts give an option to those who don't particularly want cookies but would like to support the troop and a charity at the same time. Customers may choose to buy a box but not receive the goods. Instead, the Girl Scouts take the purchased cookies and donate them to charitable organizations around town.
If you missed the initial push of sales, have no fear - surpluses are here. Cookies can still be ordered from the bakeries up until April 1. In fact, the bakeries count on it, sending surplus cases to each distribution center so that troops have an excess of cookies.
Once all the cookie orders have been satisfied, the girls take to streets yet again, this time setting up tables anywhere they can - food stores, schools, maybe even your office. So keep on the lookout and cast your vote for the best tasting cookie by buying your favorite one.
Any girls interested in joining the Girl Scouts or adults wishing to volunteer can contact the Girl Scout Council of Greater Essex and Hudson Counties located at 120 Valley Road, Montclair, NJ 07042. There is always a need for adults who do not necessarily have to be a troop leader but can donate a particular skill, time, or space to the Girl Scouts. The Council can be reached at (888) 746-8200.