Samoas, Caramel deLites, Samoa Smile, 4 1/3, Hole In One, Girl Scout Cookie Season, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
From the moment visionary Juliette Gordon Low exclaimed “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!,” the fate of the Girl Scout Cookie was sealed. Her providential encounter with Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, led to that historic day on March 12, 1912, when Low gathered 18 girls to register the first troop of American Girl Guides (changed to Girl Scouts in 1913).
Liz and I passed Juliette Gordon Low’s Savannah home on a breezy morning bus tour last summer. Later that day, we would take Mom to see the childhood home of writer Flannery O’Connor, but the tour of Low’s home will have to wait until the next trip South. Juliette Gordon Low was a writer, too. Known as “Daisy” to family and friends, she supported and developed a lifetime interest in the Arts. She wrote poems and plays, sketched, and later became a skilled painter and sculptor.
She was also deaf and spent her life advocating for girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many activities. Juliette suffered chronic ear infections and lost hearing in one ear from improper treatment. At 26, she would lose hearing in her second ear on her wedding day after a grain of good-luck rice lodged in her ear, puncturing the eardrum and resulting in an infection and total loss of hearing.
Long before women had the right to vote, Low was instrumental in encouraging girls to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness, not only in homemaking, but in future roles as professional women in the arts, sciences, business, and marketing so their organization would be self-supporting. Cookie sales began as early as 1917 with the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, which (with mothers as technical advisors) baked cookies and sold them in the high school cafeteria as a service project.
After claiming humble beginnings as a simple sugar cookie (click for an original Girl Scout recipe), the Girl Scout Cookie business is thriving. Once packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen, there are now over a dozen varieties of Girl Scout Cookies sold all over the world. When I was a Girl Scout in the 1960’s, there were about 14 bakers (now there are two or three), Girl Scout Cookies were being wrapped in printed aluminum foil or cellophane, and a number of varieties were available including Chocolate Mint, Shortbread, and Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies.
What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie? Today there are eleven varieties, including three mandatory ones — Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Sandwich (Do-si-dos), and Shortbread (Trefoils). I’m a Samoa fan (or Caramel deLite, depending on the baker). Liz’s #1 is the Thin Mint. I’m also the resident Cookie Monster. Just last week, I finished up our last box for the year, when Liz and I happened to step into a Walgreens yesterday and guess what? Right smack dab inside the door was a huge table of Girl Scout Cookies, complete with two Troop leaders and three Girl Scouts (sporting Junior Girl Scout Cookie Biz Badges).
What was the first thing we did? Buy two more boxes, one Samoa, one Shortbread. And, sadly, you can never eat just one!
After doing the research for this piece last weekend, I felt qualified to strike up a conversation about “Daisy” Gordon with one of the Girl Scouts in Walgreens. She was excited to tell me that their troop was writing a play for Juliette Gordon Low to be presented at their next meeting. “What’s the bestselling cookie this year?” I asked her mother. “Oh, the Thin Mint, hands down,” she said. “Followed by your friend (tap, tap, tap the box), the Samoa!”
Did you belong to the Girl Scouts? Were your parents involved (my mother was once the Troop Leader of Troop 38)? Or maybe you were a member of another girls service organization. If so, you owe part of what you learned to Juliette Gordon Low. She has had ships, schools, and even a stamp named after her; on July 3, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill authorizing a stamp in her honor, one of the few dedicated to women.
At a time when she was down and drifting through life, Low’s chance meeting with Robert Baden-Powell inspired her to pay it forward. Her legacy lives on in the 3.7 million members, and over 50 million girls, women, and men who have belonged to the Girl Scouts. On January 17, 1927, at age 67, Juliette Gordon Low died from breast cancer at her Savannah, Georgia, home on Lafayette Square.
Low was baptized, confirmed, married, and buried (in her Girl Scout uniform) at Georgia’s first church, and John Wesley’s only American parish, Christ Church Savannah. It was on those same steps in 1912 that she recruited many of the 18 original Girl Scouts. After her death, her friends honored her by establishing the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which finances international projects for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides around the world.
- Girl Scout Cookie History
- Juliette Gordon Low Biography
- Girl Scout Museum
- Savannah Birthplace of Juliet Gordon Low
- Juliette Gordon Low Biography, Family History, Portrait Gallery
- Test Your Juliette Gordon Low Quotient
- Girl Scout Cookie FAQ’s
- Girl Scout Cookies — Varieties, Photos, Ordering, Nutritional Values
-posted on red Ravine, Monday, March 9th, 2009