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Are Girl Scout Cookies Socially Irresponsible?

Somebody’s gotta say it.

Every year, I wonder why no one ever blogs about this. Maybe it’s because the Girl Scouts are as American as apple pie. Or maybe it’s because supporting our local scout troop has become an annual pastime. It warms our hearts.

Even I make my yearly donation or two in front of Trader Joe’s or at my local Farmer’s Market. But there’s something unique about my yearly contribution that typically leaves a bewildered look on the Scout Mom’s face.

I tell her to keep the cookies.

As yummy as those coconutty (is that a word?) Samoas are, at some point I actually took the time to read the ingredients.


Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (aka “trans fats”).

Enriched flour.

Corn syrup (sugar).

Condensed milk (condensed milk with more sugar).

Invert sugar.

Caramelized sugar.

Dextrose (more sugar).


Now, I’m not saying that one box will kill you. That would be a bit overly dramatic. But I can think of 50 healthier, more responsible ways for Girl Scouts to learn “financial skills such as goal setting, decision-making, customer service, and money management” than to sell cookies with ingredients that are known to contribute to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

I just find it backwards that we condemn food manufacturers for using these very same ingredients while giving the Girl Scouts a free ride.

One of the tactics that Big Food uses to mitigate the damage they do is run public relations campaigns in order to appear socially responsible. The Scouts are no exception. Just a few days ago, a press release was posted to the Girl Scouts website regarding a town hall meeting in which “Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Kraft Foods’ President of Global Health and Wellness and Sustainability, Rhonda Jordan, CEO of Girls Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, Lidia Soto-Harmon and hundreds of Girl Scouts joined together to demonstrate how today’s girls are making healthy choices and incorporating physical activity into their daily lives”.

I wonder if they served cookies.

Supporting your local troop is more about contributing your dollars and less about Samoas. Donate generously. It’s a great cause.

Just tell them to keep the cookies.

Sean Croxton
Keep the Cookies!

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17 thoughts on “Are Girl Scout Cookies Socially Irresponsible?

  1. Greg

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    Do you explain to the seller why you don’t want the cookies or just let it go?

  2. Bobby Khan

    To be honest sean I think it is the buyers responsibility on what they are buying mroe then the sellers. if people want buy cookies they will do that either way. But I d see your point

  3. Joshua S-H

    Hmm maybe pressure should be put on the girl scout comunity in order to select a better item for fundraising, grass feed organic sausage sizzle – has a nice ring to it

  4. Bobby

    Great read Sean. What a statement it would make to the Girl Scouts to have all those cookies sent back to them. God bless those scouts though. Don’t let them suffer for the decisions of their leadership.

  5. Sam

    If they had a healthy product, that would be a plus, that would be one more reason to buy it, and one more argument for them: “besides donating and helping us, you’lll be giving yourself a nice and healthy treat”

  6. Kris

    I told them to come back to my house when they have some organic ones. It almost made her cry. I tried to be nice:) But I still gave her $5.00. That made her smile.

  7. Kris

    And Bobby, I have to say I agree with 1/2 of what you said. It is the buyers responsibility for sure but the corporations that feed us have a lot to answer for and they need to step up to the plate and be responsible to us. They create crap food and then lobby to have misleading labels.

  8. dmgm01

    If you think Girl Scout Cookies are bad you should talk about what is served at High-School Football Game Concessions. The Band runs the concessions for High-School Football and since my Daughter and soon my son are in Band I volunteer. We use deep friers and make deep fried cheese sticks, chicken nuggets, french fries, fish, along with the usual candy. There is nothing more American than High-School Football and we sell a lot of that stuff.

  9. Christina @ Spoonfed

    This blogger is right there with you! I blogged about this exact subject last month on my own blog:

    Then Fooducate reposted the same piece last week:

    Both posts got a lot of play and a lot of passionate comments, mostly from people who agree. Great that you’re getting the word out, too!

    Spoonfed: Raising kids to think about the food they eat

  10. Christina @ Spoonfed

    This blogger is right there with you! I blogged about this exact subject last month on Spoonfed: Raising kids to think about the food they eat. Then Fooducate reposted the same piece last week. Both posts got a lot of play and a lot of passionate comments, mostly from people who agree. So we are not alone! (Looks like I can’t post a link here, so if you go to spoonfedblog (dot) net, look for “Let’s talk Girl Scout cookies” in the recent posts column.)

  11. Kim

    I also read the blog post on Spoonfed. Glad to see people bringing this to the attention of others. For the first time, this year I donated without buying the cookies. I felt good to do something that was good for the girls and good for me and my family.

  12. Jenn

    HI – new the site. I like what I see so far. I loved the girl scout cookie rant.
    I do the same thing (give them cash and tell them to keep their coookies – I do this for bake sales at my university as well). In fact, our bake sales are now 1/2 fruit and I expect that to grow over the next few semesters.

    The do get a free pass. It is only once year, which qualifies it as a treat but…..the ingredient list IS embarrassing and an illness incentive. what are we teaching the girls? How about support your CSA sale????? any issues with that one?? Bueller? Bueller? 🙂

    I am excited about looking further into your blog postings. I enjoy the videos! Great listening on the iphone/ipod on my walk to work.

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