It’s that time again- Girl Scout Cookie Season! My daughter is a Brownie and trust me, cookie season is a big deal. It’s like a 5 week Super Bowl for Girl Scouts, it’s insane. But it’s awesome, too, and the girls get very excited to sell. This is the big money maker for the troops. And I mean money maker; these cookies are big business. And why not? They are delicious- who doesn’t love a box of Girl Scout cookies?
Last year was my daughter’s first year in scouts and when it came time to sell cookies I was a basket case. My garage was full of boxes upon boxes of cookies, and Lily and I had no idea how to go about getting them all sold. Turns out, it’s not too hard; people are generally happy to purchase cookies. But upon our weeks of selling, I noticed people react to cookie buying in very different ways. There are the lovers, the haters, and everyone in between. Behold, the 5 types of people I have noticed who purchase Girl Scout Cookies:
The Charitable Buyer
These are the people that you can tell really don’t want to buy cookies, but feel too guilty not to buy. You can see it on their faces immediately; they accidentally lock eyes with my hopeful little daughter, she smiles broadly in her badge covered Brownie vest, holding up a box of Caramel deLites, and you can detect just a hint of panic. Oh God, what do I do, she knows I saw her, they seem to be thinking. They plaster a fake smile on their face, step tentatively toward the booth, and say something vague to buy some time, like “Oh, well…what do we have here? Are those cookies?” Lily launches into full Sale Mode, showing them each box of cookies, explaining each one. They always take their time, staring at each cookie box, studying each flavor, while Lily bounces nervously in front of them. Will they or won’t they? Finally, a look of resignation crosses their defeated face, and with a sigh they say, “Ok, sure. Give me a box of Shortbreads.” Oh Charitable Buyer, bless you. You are a saint. The joy you bring a little girl scout is worth the $4.00 in cookies you probably didn’t want, I promise you. You are the true altruists of the world.
The “I Really Shouldn’t” Buyer
These poor people. You can recognize them by the look of absolute angst on their faces when faced with a cookie booth. You can tell they want to keep walking but they just can’t; they want those cookies, badly. But the guilt is very powerful. Some have just started a New Year’s resolution where they are eating “clean” and don’t want to ruin the progress they have made. Others aren’t necessarily on a diet but just don’t want to be tempted to eat umpteen boxes of cookies. Whatever the reason they are reluctant to buy, they still amble up to the booth, eyes fixed on the boxes of cookies with a look of pure wanton lust. Last year, a woman wandered up to our booth, slowly, like she was trying to turn and run but a vortex was pulling her forward. She smiled nervously at the girls who all greeted her happily and began the sales spiel. She gazed longingly at the table and said, “Oh, I’d really love to…but I really shouldn’t….” She looked like a woman in turmoil, so I said, lightly “Oh, but you really should! They are just so good, how can you not?” Suddenly, her hand shoots out to grasp my arm.
I stared at her, startled, as she screeched, “NO! You don’t understand! I can’t be trusted around these cookies! Once I start, I can’t stop!” Her eyes bore into mine, beseeching to me to understand her plight.
“I once ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting”, she said in despair. I patted her arm.
“I understand,” I said, soothingly. “They can be very tempting.” She relaxed with a nod, freeing my arm, to go back to staring at the cookies. Finally, she smiled at the girls.
“Oh, just one box of Thin Mints can’t hurt…right?” My wonderful troop of girls assured the poor tortured soul that just one box would be fine. She paid for her cookies and walked away, as I rubbed the red spot on my forearm and bid her adieu. And good luck.
Speaking of Thin Mints…..
Thin Mint Nation
Thin Mints are an enigma unto themselves; they are a true cult classic. They have a following like no other food product I’ve ever encountered. They are not just a cookie, they are a thing. Thin Mints are the second most sold cookie in the United States- Oreos are number one- and they are only sold 5 weeks a year. Crazy, right? Thin Mint Nation buyers are the most eager of all the buyers (much like The True Addicts, but minus the shame). They happily skip up to any Girl Scout they see bearing cookies, money already in hand, ready to get their paws on that mint-y, chocolate-y goodness.
“Tell me you have THIN MINTS!,” they bellow, a gleam in their eye. May there be mercy on your soul if you happen to have run out because that is only cookie they are interested in purchasing, and they truly go dead in the eyes if you have to break the news that you don’t have any. We have made this mistake before and now we don’t leave the house without those cookies with us for the duration of cookie season; you never know when you are going to need them.
I realized the hugeness of the Thin Mint when I realized there are recipes based on these cookies. Many a buyer has mentioned they are buying some, not just because they are cookies, but because they are a special ingredient.
“Have you ever made the Thin Mint Lava Cake?”, one buyer asked me, excitedly. I have not actually, had never even heard of it. “OMG,” she said, eyes rolling back into her head. “You must! It is to DIE for!” She said she stocks her freezer with Thin Mints every year because she uses them to make various, fancier desserts. And here I was for years just simply eating them as a cookie. I had no idea that Thin Mints could be destined for even more greatness than they already are.
You don’t want to even waste your breath attempting to sell a Thin Mint Nation-er any other type of cookie; they will glare at the pathetic box of Lemonades you offer with pure disdain. Not gonna happen. They will would never cheat on their beloved with another, lesser Girl Scout Cookie.
The Sampler Buyer
You gotta love these guys; they want a box of every cookie you offer! Because they can never remember which kind are the ones they truly love, and it doesn’t help that the names and varieties of these cookies have changed many times over the years. It also matters if you buy from our region’s baker or the dreaded “other baker”- there are two Girl Scout Cookie factories, and the cookies have different names. Have you ever asked a Girl Scout for a box of Do Si Dos and gotten a blank stare? Yeah, that’s because my troop doesn’t sell Do Si Dos- we sell Peanut Butter Sandwiches. You like Samoas? Cool, but we don’t have those either, we have Caramel deLites. Same cookies, different names. You see the trouble here.
So the poor Sampler Buyer always winds up staring at the cookie selection with a furrowed brow muttering, “Hmmm…..what is the name of that cookie my wife eats? I don’t recognize any of these….” Lily will patiently describe each cookie in detail while the confused buyer continues to scratch their heads, still just completely befuddled. Eventually, they just give up and say, “Ah, well, they all sound delicious- just gimme one of each!” Oh man, there is no sale my daughter gets more excited about than that one; there is just something magical for her when someone wants to buy every type of cookie. She lives for you to stop by her booth, Sampler Buyer- you are like a unicorn to her.
One day, an exhausted Sampler was loading his 9 boxes of varied cookies into his car when suddenly he about faced and came running back to us. “Savannah Smiles!”, he shouted, victoriously. “The ones she loves, my wife’s favorite? They are called Savannah Smiles!” He grinned proudly, hopefully sweeping his eyes over the cookie boxes one more time. Lily and I stared dazedly back at him- umm, what on Earth are Savannah Smiles? We had not even heard of those kind of cookies.
Lily shrugged, apologetically. “We don’t have anything called that. Never heard of those.” The man nodded, resigned to the fact that he wasn’t getting himself out of the sugary variety pack in his back seat. He trudged back to his car, leaving Lily and I wondering- was that ever a cookie or was he just sort of crazy? (He’s not crazy, there really is a cookie with that name. Little bit of Girl Scout cookie trivia for you).
Other Sampler Buyers just simply can’t decide which ones they want most. They start off wanting just one box of this or that but then remember, oh, they love that one and that one, too, so just keep grabbing box after box. Whatever the M.O. of the Sampler, hats off to them; they sure know how to make a little girl happy with their cookie shopping.
The True Addicts
Ah, I think these might be my favorite buyers of all. These people truly love Girl Scout Cookies, and usually have their “drug of choice”. Unlike The Sampler, they are generally looking for a particular poison in vast quantities. My first experience with a True Addict was one I’ll never forget. My daughter had her little cookie booth set up in our driveway, as she does, one afternoon. A car goes past, slams on the brakes, and backs up so fast I think the tires might have squealed a bit. A man jumps out and makes a beeline for Lily’s booth, his eyes strangely darting back and forth a bit. Hmmm…. He smiles at Lily and says hello and then looks me square in the eye with a very serious look on his face.
“How many boxes of Peanut Butter Patties do ya got?”, he asks in a low voice, like he is trying to keep it on the down low.
“Um, how many boxes do we have, like, total?” I asked him, also keeping my voice low. I felt like I should have whispered it.
“Yeah, total,” he says, peering into Lily’s wagon full of cookies.
I look at Lily who turns and counts them. “We have 13 boxes of Peanut Butter Patties,” she announced.
“Is that all?”, the man asks, all disappointed like.
Is that all? “Unfortunately, yes, I’m sorry,” I told him, still keeping my voice low (I don’t know why; he just acted like we needed to keep this whole transaction as quiet as possible so I tried) “We can order more and deliver them to you at a later date, if you would like?”
He considered that for a moment and then said, “It’s ok, just give me all that you have,” still in that low voice. It felt for just a slight moment like we were doing something illegal, what with him so urgent and secretive about it. He loaded the boxes in his arms quickly, thanked us with a nervous flash of a smile, and was gone as quickly as he blew in. Lily and I watched him go before exchanging a long look at one another.
“That was….weird”, my daughter remarked, one eyebrow raised. I laughed so hard. Indeed it was, child, indeed it was. But very entertaining. And pretty awesome. When you need your cookie fix, you just need it. No judgement here, True Addicts. I think you rule.
Whatever kind of cookie buyer you are, the most important thing is that you buy them at all. Not only are the cookies delicious, but by purchasing them you are supporting girls. Because the cookie sale really isn’t about doling out sugar addictions and cavities to all of our friends and family every year- that’s just a happy side effect. The reason for the cookie sale is that it teaches the girls how to run a business. Buyers of these cookies are helping train a nation of girls skills that will last them a lifetime. And I think we can all agree that that is the true deliciousness of the Girl Scout Cookie.
To all of you Girl Scout Cookie lovers, thank you, and enjoy those cookies! And would someone please toss that addict over there in the corner a Thin Mint? Their face is starting to twitch…..