This year's Girl Scout cookie sale begins Friday and continues through Jan. 27, with delivery set for Feb. 20 through March 3. And while customers are picking out their favorites, the Cotton Boll Area Girl Scout Council reminds them there's so much more to a box of Girl Scout cookies than what meets the eye.
"Buying a box of cookies is not really like a normal sale of goods, it is more like the scrumptious bonus, if you will, of supporting Girl Scouts as individuals, troops, cities and regionally," said Heather Pobst, Six Star Service Unit cookie manager. "All money made stays right here in the Cotton Boll Council."
This year's cookie selection includes some of the old favorites, Trefoils, Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas and Do-si-dos. They are joined by three new additions, Aloha Chips, made with macadamia nuts and white fudge chips; Ole' Ole' cookies, which are reduced fat crunchy pecan cookies in powdered sugar; and a shortbread cookie with a fudge bottom called All Abouts.
And back by popular demand is Little Brownies Bakers. This is the company the Cotton Boll Girl Scout Council used for 18 years before changing to ABC Bakers two years ago.
"Due to input from the volunteers in our communities, we have gone back to Little Brownie Bakers because as the people have clearly told us, they are the best," Pobst said, repeating what she has been told over and over.
The Girl Scout cookie sale is a tradition dating back to the 1920s when Girl Scouts baked their own cookies and sold them out of baskets in their neighborhoods to support their troop activities.
Today, selling Girl Scout cookies is considered an educational activity, teaching girls to set goals, be responsible, figure budgets and get hands-on experience in math, scheduling, marketing, communications and human relations.
Last year 199,440 boxes were sold.
This year the cookies are $3 a box and the money raised funds the Girl Scouts in various ways. Forty-five to 60 cents goes to the girls' troop treasury for program activities, trips, materials, supplies and other purchases decided upon by girls and their leaders.
Five cents pays for girl incentives and camp credits, 2.5 cents pays for service unit activities and expenses and 82.5 cents pays for the cost of the cookies.
The remaining $1.35-$1.50 provides educational programs, leader training and materials, Camp Latonka and service center facilities, publications, financial assistance and camperships and professional and clerical services for 3,000 girls and 800 adult volunteers, determined by the volunteer board of directors.
The annual cookie sale accounts for 50 percent of the council's operating budget.
"Income from the cookie sale is the biggest source of income for troops and council programs," Pobst noted. "This money is divided in many ways but the most important way is to support the troops financially and provide the Girl Scout program for girls all over the Bootheel.
"Cookies sell for $3 this year but again it is not the cookies people are buying, it is a donation to Girl Scouting that they are making. This year girls will have the opportunity to help the council by pledging some of their cookie proceeds to help build the "Cookie Kitchen" in the new service center which will help the council serve even more girls and to provide more program opportunities."
As a kick-off to the upcoming cookie sale, the Six Star service unit (which serves girls from Sikeston, Morehouse, Bertrand, Matthews, Morley and Miner) will host its annual cookie rally at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Sikeston Middle School cafeteria. Activities will include a '50s sock hop in honor of this year's sales theme which is "Swing Into Action" and games such as a cookie tasting contest, guess the number of cookies in a jar and a tossing game.
On Jan. 16 the Girl Scouts will go door-to-door selling cookies with their troops.
And in an effort to make certain everyone who wants to order cookies has an opportunity, the Cotton Boll Area Girl Scout Council is conducting a "Leave the Light On" project this year. Residents who have not placed a cookie order are asked to leave their porch lights on Jan. 26 to alert Girl Scouts that they would like to order cookies and the Girls Scouts will do their best to get to the houses.
As always though, anyone who has not had their cookie order taken can contact the Girl Scout office at 471-1035. Those who order their cookies directly through the office are asked to pick them up there as well.
"Girl Scouts cookies are as much of a tradition as baseball," Pobst said. "Everybody knows about them and can't wait for Girl Scout cookie season to arrive. Many people buy several boxes and freeze them for that great cookie treat all year long.
"As a leader I love to see my girls set goals and exceed them. The obvious look of elation on a Girl Scout's face at meeting her goal is comparable to hearing your child tell you that they love you. It warms your heart and soul."