(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
SIKESTON -- A healthy version of a cookie classic and the return of an old favorite will add some spice to this year's varieties as Girl Scout cookie sales begin Friday.
Sugar Free Chocolate Chips, a cookie for those who need or prefer sugar free products; and Lemon Chalet Cremes, a sandwich cookie with a touch of cinnamon-ginger spice, are the Girl Scout Cookies Program's two new cookies this year.
"Some will remember we had the Lemon Chalet for years and it has been brought back," said April Isbell, communications director for the Cotton Boll Area Council. "It has a very zesty lemon taste."
Returning favorites are Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si Dos, Trefoils and All Abouts. Usually shaped in rectangles, the All Abouts will have a new look this year -- they'll be round.
"All Abouts is a shortbread cookie with chocolate on the bottom and it has phrases that say what Girl Scouts is all about," Isbell said. "The cookie is a little smaller but it's still the same weight in the box."
All varieties of Girl Scout cookies are now "zero trans fat per serving," in compliance with the FDA regulations.
"There's so much more to it than cookies," Isbell said about the Girl Scout Cookie Program. "Yes, it's how they do fundraising, and yes, people get good cookies, but the girls gain so much in taking in part of the sales," Isbell said.
Since 1917, the Girl Scout cookie activity has become a famous annual event that has helped girls develop leadership skills they will use throughout their lives.
Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, the entire troop sets a goal and follows a plan leading toward that goal. Girl Scout troops use funds from the cookie activity to fund a service project or to plan for a trip.
Nine-year-old Abi Reese of Sikeston and her mom, Cheri Reese, remember when Abi started selling cookies, she was too afraid to go to a stranger's front door without her mother by her side.
"Now I stand out in the yard, and she goes up to the door herself," Cheri Reese said about her daughter.
And when the first person told Abi no, Reese said she thought her daughter was going to cry. Now it doesn't bother Abi, she said.
"You just go on and forget about it," Abi said.
Since she began selling cookies in the first grade, each year has gotten easier, said Abi, now a third grader.
"You have experience, and you know which houses to go to," Abi said. And now Abi has her own sales pitch.
"I tell them my name and I say, 'How are you doing today and would you like to buy cookies?'" Abi said. "Some are already sold to when I get there. Sometimes they just moved there, and they don't know what the cookies are and we have to tell them."
The most cookies Abi has sold in a year was 205 boxes, which isn't close to the record of about 1,000 boxes, she said.
"It takes a lot of courage to sell door-to-door," Reese noted.
Reese, who is the cookie sales chair for the Girl Scouts Cotton Boll Area Council's Sixth Star Service Unit which encompasses towns like Morley, Matthews and Sikeston, will conduct a cookie rally Thursday night in Sikeston to motivate local girls to set their goals for selling cookies.
"I will introduce all the products we have and teach about safely techniques and get them their forms and information and make sure their leaders have everything they need and distribute all the cookies," said Reese, who is also the leader for her daughter's troop --Troop 22.
Reese said she will talk about safety and do cookie taste testing with the girls. A cookie fashion show, where girls dress up as five of their favorite cookies, and a cookie relay race will also be part of the night's activities.
"I try to encourage the girls to sell the cookies themselves," Reese said.
The Sixth Star Service Unit is comprised of about 207 registered Girl Scouts and 30 troops.
Cookies cost $3.50 a box. Proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program also go to support Camp Latonka and other programs for girls and training for volunteers across the area. Some of this year's program events include activities like Skatapalooza, Pajamarama, I Love New York and the Cotton Boll Carnival.
Isbell and Reese said the girls learn about setting goals, leadership, confidence and being responsible for what they're doing.
"Our motto is character, courage and confidence, and we try to teach that to every girl," Isbell said.
Door-to-door selling will end Jan. 27. For those who aren't contacted by a Girl Scout over the next two weeks and would like to purchase cookies can contact Cheri Reese at 471-7745.