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Cookie craze: Girl Scouts get creative to sell cookies


A box of “Toffee-Tastic” Girl Scouts cookies. The Girl Scout Cookie Program began in 1917 by a troop in Oklahoma. Joy Burton

The beginning of January marks the start of Girl Scout cookie sales. Scouts knock on doors, stand in front of grocery stores or take boxes to church trying to sell as many cookies as possible to be the top seller in their troop.

According to the Girl Scouts website, the Cookie Program is meant to teach girls five main skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

The program has existed for more than 100 years, Girl Scout spokesperson Deana Potterf said. It started in 1917 in Oklahoma when a troop decided to bake cookies to raise money for its troop activities. The only year Girl Scouts didn’t sell cookies was in 1944 during World War II due to a shortage of several baking ingredients. The scouts sold calendars that year.

From 1917 to 1935 , Girl Scouts were baking cookies in their homes, Potterf said. In 1936, Girl Scouts started working with a licensed commercial bakery to produce the cookies. Now two licensed bakeries bake the cookies.

Potterf said one new trend is cookie drive-throughs, when scouts set up stands in a parking lot and cookie customers don’t have to leave their cars.

University of Colorado-Boulder freshman Lauren Drew posted a video this week showing a group of Girl Scouts standing at a UC-Boulder fraternity party selling cookies to attendees. The camera zooms into the Girl Scouts’ sign that says “Girl Scouts Cookies $4, Venmo or cash.” The camera then pans to show about 90 people packed into an outside area. The camera focuses back on the group of Girl Scouts, and Drew can be heard saying, “What?”

Some of the replies praise the Girl Scouts for their selling techniques.

Drew said she saw a couple of people walking around with boxes.

The tweet has more than 156,000 views as of Thursday afternoon.

Bloomington jewelry store Gold Casters praised scout Harper Jent in a Feb. 17 Facebook post for her ideas on how cookies can be used to help with the store promotions.

“Gold Casters supports and encourages all young future business leaders,” the post reads.

Former Girl Scout and IU freshman Lauren Winnefeld said she sold cookies for five years when she was younger. She remembers playing rock, paper, scissors with fellow troop members to see who would have to talk to potential customers. Winnefeld said she and her troop members raised enough money to stay in a cabin for a weekend.

“I liked selling cookies because it got me out of my comfort zone even though I was still super shy,” Winnefeld said.

The girls are rewarded for their hard work with a prize system, Potterf said. The more boxes of cookies a scout sells, the more prizes they get. Prizes range from outdoor packs to Lego sets to theme park tickets.

Girl Scouts can also donate their shoes to The Shoe That Grows instead of getting a prize. The Shoe That Grows is an organization that takes shoe donations and creates shoes that adapt to children’s feet as they grow for up to five years.

“They make sure that the children in Kenya have shoes that can grow to adapt to their feet,” Potterf said. “Because children walk several miles to school each day it’s important that they have shoes.”

Last year, Central Indiana Girl Scouts donated 525 pairs of shoes, Potterf said.

There is an app to locate cookie booths to buy Girl Scout cookies called Cookie Finder available for iPhones and Androids.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Deana Potterf. The IDS regrets this error

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