American Classics: Original Girl Scout Cookies

American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.


[Photograph: Pam Parrella]

Spring is in the air and coworkers are circulating order forms. It's officially Girl Scout cookie season. Girl Scouts and cookies are so linked in my mind that as a kid I flirted with joining solely to sell cookies (I think I watched Troop Beverly Hills a few times too many...). But the truth is cookie sales have been an important part of financing troop activities for many years. While the earliest mention of a Girl Scout cookie sale was recorded in 1917, it was in the early 1920s that cookie sales really took off across the country likely as a result of an article published in The American Girl.

The article's author was a local scouting director in Chicago who provided a simple sugar cookie recipe that young scouts could easily make at home with their mothers. According to the official Girl Scouts site, she "estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents," while the cookies "could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen." That's a pretty sweet profit, if you ask me.

Adapted from that early recipe, these light cookies grow crisp around the edges as they cool, making them more akin to a thin butter cookie than a typical soft and doughy sugar cookie. Due to the high butter content they are prone to spreading, so they aren't the best pick for a shaped cut-out cookie, but the flavor is comforting and buttery. This year in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, grab your apron and hit the kitchen to earn your baking badge while you wait for your Thin Mints and Samoas to arrive.

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Original Girl Scout Cookies »

Got a favorite classic American dessert recipe you'd like to see featured here? Email us with the subject: "American Classics."