From January through April, Girl Scouts go door-to-door and post up outside your local grocery store, selling cookies to raise money for their local chapters. It seems simple (and honestly, not that exciting). But I get as excited during cookie season now as ever I did on Christmas Eve as a kid. When I see girls and their parents hocking boxes of Samoas, Trefoils, Do-Si-Dos, and Thin Mints on the sidewalk, I make it a point to buy as many boxes as I can carry. When my former roommate's little sister was still a scout, I'd buy eight to 10 boxes of Thin Mints from her every year. (Yes, all for myself.)
But try explaining this to someone who didn't grow up in the U.S. (or who grew up without a local Girl Scout troop) and you get met with some skeptical looks. They can't be that good, people say. Can't you just get Oreos and call it a day? No I can't, Kathy. Girl Scouts cookies are sacred and special and perfect in basically every way.
However, it's tough to articulate exactly why these little confections are so special. As my colleague Zoe pointed out to me, Girl Scout cookies aren't just about the cookies themselves. The act of eating them invokes a very specific feeling. "Nothing sparks joy for me quite like sitting on the couch with a box of (frozen, obviously) Thin Mints and/or Samoas, a blanket, and a Friends marathon," she says. "Something about eating them just makes me feel really warm and cozy."
Fellow former Girl Scout Tehrene says eating the cookies takes her back to childhood. "Whenever I take a bite, I'm reminded of all the time I got to spend with my mom going door-to-door trying to sell as many boxes as possible," she says. "I can't remember any of the prizes I won from those sales, but I'll never forget the special moments we shared."
And my god, they are good. To me, nothing tastes as good as a fresh Thin Mint. The super dark chocolate, the crisp bite, the minty after-taste—few things bring me more joy. While Thin Mints are objectively the best cookie, the quality stands for most other varieties. "The very first time I took a bite of a Tagalong, I just knew: Soulmates do exist," my colleague Kells says of the classic chocolate-peanut butter treat.
Perhaps most importantly, purchasing Girl Scout cookies doesn't just make you feel good; when you buy a box you're doing good for girls in your local community. The point of selling cookies, according to Girl Scouts of the USA, is to teach young girls in real-time how to set (and meet) goals, manage money, make decisions, and deal with people. My experience as a Girl Scout delivered on these promises. I learned how to count and give change when we sold cookies at a stand outside the grocery store, and honed my people skills by convincing people to take home just one more box. Our troop set earnings goals every year to help us fund activities and trips (including a sleepover at Sea World) that we would have otherwise had to pay for out of pocket. This is life experience you don't necessarily get in the classroom that has become a valuable part of my #adulting skill set. (The Girl Scouts as an organization have also been consistently forward-thinking and inclusive, especially toward LGBTQ youth.)
Obviously, we're talking about cookies, so even the gluten-free and vegan varieties aren't exactly a health food. But I also believe strongly in making room for joy (and treats) in your diet—otherwise, what's the point?—and what better embodiment of 80/20 than Girl Scout cookies, which are only available three months each year. This isn't just me justifying my love of cookies; many dietitians will say that dessert can be part of a healthy diet, provided that you watch your portion sizes and eat mindfully. Saying yes to the occasional Thin Mint rather than depriving myself is an act of self-love. And it's one that I gladly participate in every single winter.
Winter is hard, miserable, and long. Girl Scout cookies are a light in the darkness, reminding me that spring will come again. There is hope and happiness to be had, even when it's below 30 with windchill outside. There is a future, and it's in the hands of these smart, hustling girls who sold me these cookies. I take a bite for instant bliss.
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