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Girl Scout cookie season is upon us and we all know that means if you haven’t already broken your New Years resolution yet, you’re about to. This month’s increase in green vested girls manning cookie-adorned tables in front of supermarkets got me wondering: How did Girl Scout cookies become so perennially relevant – and delicious? Lucky for you, after hours of research, and dozens of Thin Mints (in the name of research of course), I have compiled a brief history of this tasty tale.

Girl Scouts of America was formed in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low when she met with 18 girls in Savannah, GA. The organization quickly grew into a national movement. In 1917, a group from Muskogee, Oklahoma started selling homemade cookies in their high school cafeteria as part of a service project.

In 1922, American Girl magazine featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a Girl Scout director in Chicago, who encouraged troops to bake and sell cookies as a national fundraiser. Along with the article, she provided a sugar cookie recipe. Girl Scouts continued to bake and sell cookies this way, until in 1934 when members of the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia Council became the first to commercially sell their cookies. By 1937, the national organization began the process of licensing its first commercial baker, with 125 councils across the country reporting sales. The cookies experienced a brief hiatus during World War II due to a shortage of flour, sugar, and butter. Calendars were sold instead.

Cookie Sales Kit Inside

In 1951 the famed Thin Mint made it’s debut, and by the 1960′s Baby Boomers had increased memberships significantly. In 1978, cookie boxes included depictions of Girl Scouts canoeing, hiking, and doing other outdoor activities, funded through cookie sales.

The 1980′s came and went (at least that’s what my parents always told me) and Girl Scout cookies continued to be an annual favorite for millions of Americans. In the 1990′s when Power Rangers, N’Sync, and Michael Jordan dominated pop culture, I ate my first box of Samoas. The perks of having a sister in the Girl Scouts.

Today there are more than 3 million Girl Scouts nationwide, and each one learns valuable life skills through their council’s cookie sales. On its website, the national Girls Scouts organization outlines five skills learned through its cookie program, saying:

“Selling cookies teaches goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, to success, and to life.”

So it seems, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Enjoy a box of cookies, take a bite out of an American tradition, and make a positive impact on Girl Scouts throughout the country.

(Photo credits: 1, 2)