For more than 80 years, Girl Scouts in Arizona have sold cookies–and had fun, developed valuable life skills, and made their communities a better place every step of the way. Did you know that it was around 1940 that GSACPC had their first cookie sale? Take a guess which original flavor is still part of today’s line up and continue reading to find out if your guess is correct!
The First Girl Scout Cookie Sale in Arizona
Girl Scout Cookies had their earliest beginnings in the kitchens and ovens of our girl members, with moms volunteering as technical advisers. Selling 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.
It was in the 1920s that Girl Scouts across the nation baked and sold cookies. A sugar recipe had been shared from a sister council that allowed girls to bake simple sugar cookies, keeping their costs low. With the help of cookie volunteers and parents, girls baked these cookies, packaged them in wax paper bags, sealed them with a sticker, and sold them door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen, does this sale strategy sound familiar?
Fast forward to the 1930s in Arizona – a Charter from National Girl Scouts (not yet called GSUSA) was recorded for the Maricopa Girl Scouts Council (now known as Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council or GSACPC) in 1937, with seven troops and 143 girls.
Even though National Girl Scouts suggested cookie sales raised money, our local board voted against selling cookies in 1938 and 1939 and continued fundraising with bridge luncheons, teas, and garden parties that were deemed more sociable.
It wasn’t until 1940 that GSACPC had its first Girl Scout Cookie sale! They used Dolly Madison Cake Company that charged the Council $450 for 3,750 sugar cookies. That’s $0.12 a cookie. There was a total of 364 girls from 19 troops that sold cookies for 20 cents a box, generating a total of $928.57 in sales. It was a huge success for the girls! The three highest selling troops were given a bonus of one cent per box sold.
Girl Scout Cookies continued to be sold by local councils around the country until World War II, when sugar, flour, and butter shortages led Girl Scouts to sell the first Girl Scout calendars in 1944 as a socially-conscious alternative.
After the war, cookie sales increased, and by 1948, 29 bakers were licensed to bake Girl Scout Cookies.
In 1951, Girl Scout Cookies came in three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread, and Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints). With the advent of the suburbs, girls at tables in shopping malls began selling Girl Scout Cookies.
During the 1960s, when 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.
In 1978, the number of bakers was streamlined to four to ensure lower prices, 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 began promoting the benefits of Girl Scouting.
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.
Early in the twenty-first century, every Girl Scout Cookie had a mission. New cookie box designs, introduced in the fall of 2000, were bold and bright, capturing the spirit of Girl Scouting. Two licensed bakers produced a maximum of eight varieties, including three 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!
The Girl Scout Cookie Program Today
Two licensed bakers are serving all 111 councils. The baker of choice to both Councils in Arizona in Little Brownie Bakers, offering Thin Mints®, Samoas®, Tagalongs®, Do-si-dos®, Trefoils®, Lemon-Ups™, Girl Scout S'mores®, and Toffee-tastics®.
And Girl Scout Cookies are SO much more than just a sale, a sweet treat, a fundraiser. That’s right. It’s a research-backed, outcomes-based entrepreneurial and financial literacy program. Every box helps power enriching experiences for the awesome girls who sell them—it also provides the opportunity to learn essential life skills, soar in confidence, and quickly discover the leader within.
Bake the 1922 Girl Scout Sugar Cookie
- 1 cup of butter, or substitute
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
Cream butter and sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, flavoring, flour, and baking powder. Roll thin and sprinkle sugar on top. This amount makes six to seven dozen.
Modern-day tips (not part of the original recipe): Refrigerate batter for at least one hour before rolling and cutting cookies. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
Source: Girl Scout Cookie History and GSACPC Archives