Armed with order forms and boxes of sugary wafers, Girl Scouts across Johnson County are fanning out to sell their world-famous cookies.
They’re pushing caramel-chocolate Samoas and peanut-butter-stuffed Do-si-Dos. From tables in front of your favorite store to door-to-door in your neighborhood, the girls will be taking orders.
The annual Girl Scout cookie sale is a confectionery event that sugar lovers all over the country look forward to.
In some ways, the crisp bite of Thin Mints, the crunch of Tagalongs and the buttery flavor of Trefoils sell themselves. But being a success in the cookie game requires Girl Scouts to master organization, persuasive selling and financial planning.
“There are things like money management and selling we learn every year that we can use when we’re older,” said Eleri Norcross, 9, of Franklin. “It’s good for me to learn it each year because maybe we forget what we’re supposed to do, and then we learn it again.”
Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for more than 100 years. The sales of sugar cookies were intended to help finance troop trips and activities.
C is for cookie
When: Through March 17
What: A financial literacy program teaching girls skills such as money management, business ethics and setting goals.
Cookie booth weekends: Feb. 8, 15, 22, March 1 and 8
To find cookies: Go to girlscouts.org for a listing of booths set up around Johnson County.
Over the years, what started as a single kind of cookie has blossomed into a business selling 12 different types. Girl Scouts sold more than $790 million worth of Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Lemonades last year.
“This is the nation’s largest financial literacy program for girls. Essentially, they’re running their own business,” said Deana Potterf, spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.
For the girls who participate, that means putting together a plan and seeing it to fruition.
Eleri has a system behind her sales.
She starts by appealing to people close to her family — grandparents, family friends and other relatives. On the occasional warm winter day, she went door-to-door in her Franklin neighborhood.
The first month of the sale, the Girl Scouts are simply taking orders for potential customers, so it works best to hit up people she knows and can promise delivery to.
By the middle of February, as boxes of cookies are being delivered, they can begin selling throughout the community.
Eleri and the rest of Troop 2416 will set up booths outside of Walmart, Kroger and Lowe’s, enticing shoppers to pick up a box on their way in or out of the store.
“We ask everyone that comes in if they want to buy some cookies. A lot of them want to get them after they shop, once they come out of the store,” she said.
Eleri is in her fourth year as a Girl Scout. The Franklin girl has been able to learn horseback riding and chemistry on monthly field trips.
But the cookie sale has helped develop skills that she will need later in life.
The program focuses on five main concepts — goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.
“We go over them each year, so they have practice when the sale starts,” said Jessica Norcross, Eleri’s mother and Troop 2416 leader.
“They get more confidence as we reinforce those skills.”
Before the sale starts, each troop gathers the girls together to help them maximize their sales and learn the five core Girl Scout values.
Eleri’s troop, for example, includes Scouts from kindergarten to Grade 5. The youngest girls have never sold cookies before, so Norcross works with older girls to help them practice.
“We had them pair up with an older girl and work the booth together. Then all of the other girls got to be their customers, role-playing approaching them and asking them to buy,” Norcross said.
“They worked on making change and had the opportunity to run through the scenario.”
Girls Scouts of Central Indiana also hosts a “cookie college.”
Girls from all over the region meet to role-play different situations accentuating good ethics when selling and how to count change twice before handing it back to the customer.
They get to think about what their troop will do with the money they raise through the cookie campaign.
“And they always get to try the cookies. It’s good to know what you’re selling,” Norcross said.
In the end, the hope is that the girls who participate in the cookie program have fun and make money for their troops.
But organizers also hope that the lessons they learned while selling cookies stick with them for a long time, Potterf said.
“At a really early age, girls are challenged to spend money on different things. They see the commercials for all of these products, and at a very young age, we begin to develop habits,” she said.
“In Girl Scouts, they sit down as a troop, talk about goals, planning and managing that money. We want their habits to be good ones.”
Stellar desserts made to order
Peanut Butter Patty Blondies
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter, such as Skippy
8 Peanut Butter Patties, crushed
Line an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan with parchment or foil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the sea salt and flour. Set this aside. Put the melted butter, brown sugar and peanut butter in the mixer bowl and combine. Add the egg and beat until the color changes to light yellow — a few minutes on high will do it.
Add the flour mixture and gently mix. Fold in the crushed cookies. Pour into the pan and slide into the oven.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the edges brown.
Mint Ice Cream with Thin Mints
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup cream
5 egg yolks
10 Thin Mint cookies, crushed
Warm the milk, sugar and mint leaves in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour the cream in a bowl with a colander on top.
When the milk mixture is hot and steaming, turn off the heat, cover and let steep for an hour. Remove the mint leaves, then reheat the milk over medium heat again.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
Pour a little bit of the warmed milk into the egg yolks and whisk continuously, then a little bit more until the yolks are warmed through. Add the yolks to the saucepan. Stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour through the colander, mix with the cream and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.
Churn the ice cream according to the ice cream maker’s instructions. Add the crushed Thin Mints to the container you will be pouring the ice cream into. Add the ice cream and stir so that the cookies are evenly distributed, then pop into the freezer until firm.