By Elliott Feedore & Sarah Craig
It’s that season. Girl scout cookie season, that time from about January to March where little girls in green uniforms try to sell their tasty treats to us consumers. It’s like clockwork, the same thing every year, since before any of us can remember, right?
Wrong. This year there’s a few surprises when it comes to those sinful snacks that every potential buyer should be aware of.
Background: Girl Scout cookies have been around since 1917, when the troop first began selling them to raise funds. Since then, Girl Scouts claim their cookies are “an icon of American culture.” With 130 to 200 million boxes being sold a year, it’s a reasonable statement to make. And in case you were curious, that amounts to $455 to $700 million that the Girl Scouts are making off their cookies annually. Other organizations, like the Boy Scouts, have never even come close to matching that kind of revenue.
Now: As the U.S. Economy fails and many leading industries take a dive, it should come as no surprise that cookie sales are suffering as well. Sales have decreased as much as 19 percent. The franchise has taken a hit and done what any reasonable seller of sugary sweets would do. They raised prices.
At an average of $3.50 a box, they are quite costly. And though some Americans have caught on and realized that they can get the same thing at a supermarket for much cheaper, many still treat themselves to a box or two or five when the scouts come a knockin’.
Yet it’s not just the price that’s changing. Over the years, the packaging, names, and even types of cookies have been changed regularly. But this year, reports claim the amount of cookies in a box have decreased. And on top of that, some cookies have even shrunk in size. The reason? Blame has been placed on increasing ingredient and transportation costs.
Despite this, those cookies will continue to sell. It’s really genius to have their secret weapon little girls sell products, as no one can say no and in good conscience. Some may see it as exploitation, yet when examined closely the girls are learning important lessons. “Selling cookies helps teach girls life skills like goal setting, money management, and teamwork,” according to the Girl Scout’s site. They’re also gaining marketing techniques and learning how American business works.
The money: Excluding the baking costs, all of the money is divided among three levels of the Girl Scouts organization: the national Girl Scouts of the USA, the regional councils, and the local troops. The money accounts for about a third of the Girl Scout’s budget, and is mainly used to fund activities. No money goes outside of the organization.
Unfortunately, in times like these, all sectors of corporate America are cutting corners. The Girl Scouts have been struggling to maintain their price amidst increases in the costs of flour, cocoa, and cooking oils.
•34-41% of a council’s working budget comes from its cookie sales
•In most troops, 75 boxes sold gets the scout a badge; 1,000 = two weeks at girl scout camp
•130-200 million boxes are sold per year
•$700 million is raised per year by sale of Girl Scout Cookies
Source: Columbia News Service (http://jscms.jrn.columbia.edu/cns/2006-04-18/oneill-girlscoutcookies)
•12-17% of a box’s purchase price is retained by individual cookie sellers
•25% of cookies sold are Thin Mints
•19% Samoas® (Caramel deLites®)
•13% Peanut Butter Patties® (Tagalongs®)
•11% Peanut Butter Sandwich (Do-si-dos®)
•9% Shortbread (Trefoils)
Source: GSA FAQ (http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/faqs.asp)
•66% of councils sell cookies January-March
•33% of councils sell cookies during the fall
•70% of cookie sales are from preorders
•Preorders are down 19% in some parts of the country
Source: USA Today; 02/20/2009