(Photos by Michelle Felter, Staff)
SIKESTON -- They say a rose by any other name smells just as sweet ... and a cookie by any other name tastes just as good.
That's what local Girl Scouts say about their cookies, which are made by a different baker and have different names this year. Sales kick off Friday.
"It is the exact same recipe as is used by the other baker," said Cheri Reese, service unit volunteer manager who is in charge of sales for the Six Star Unit, which includes Sikeston, Miner, Matthews, Morehouse, Morley and the surrounding area. Reese, who has been involved in Girl Scouts for 17 years and considers herself a connoisseur of the sweets, said she only noticed a small change in the taste -- the biggest is the names.
For instance, Tagalongs are now Peanut Butter Patties; Samoas are now Caramel DeLites, Trefoils are now called Shortbread, Thanks-A-Lot is the new name for All Abouts, and Do-Si Dos are dubbed Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Back this year are Thin Mints.
There are also two new varieties: Lemonades, slices of shortbread with a tangy lemon icing; and Daisy Go Rounds, reduced fat crispy cinnamon cookies packaged in 100 calorie packets.
The new company, ABC Bakers, is new to this area, but not to Girl Scouts cookies. It has baked the cookies sold for years in other areas of the newly-formed Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, a larger council.
"When the new council came into existence in October, we felt it would be best to have the consistency across the whole area," said Brigitte Scott, chief communications officer for the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland. "Other than the names, there is really no big difference -- the Girls Scouts of the USA have worked hard with all the bakers to make sure all cookies are the same quality."
And Reese said the new, more descriptive names are better for marketing standpoint. "And I think it's a bit easier for the girls to remember these names," she said.
Earlier this week, girls in the area participated in a rally, themed "Going Places" to learn more about the products, cookie sales and safety as a kick-off to the promotional period.
"This is a way to get them psyched up about the cookie sales," said Lesch.
Girl Scout cookie sales began in 1917. The annual event seeks to help girls develop leadership skills they will use throughout their lives.
"It's not just a sale -- it's a program," said Lesch. In fact, girls can log on to a special Web site for developmental materials geared toward different ages, and to set and track cookie goals.
And the girls learn a lot just by going door-to-door and selling cookies. "Getting out and talking to people is so important," said Lesch.
Megan Ragsdell, 17, a senior ambassador who is selling for her 12th year, agreed. "I became a lot more outgoing by selling," she said. Ragsdell has always used the buddy system when selling as a safety measure, so she said she also learned a lot about teamwork.
"They also learn a lot of confidence," said Reese. Her daughter Abi, 10, was shy when she began selling, Reese recalled.
"But she isn't anymore," said Reese. She also requires Abi to help sort the cookies and call people to set up delivery times, so Abi learns a lot about responsibility.
Cookie sale time is something a lot of the girls anticipate.
Nine-year-old Tesla Gadberry is participating in her third sale, and said she's ready.
"I have a lot of fun," she said. "I like to go out, meet people and raise money for Girl Scouts."
Prices this year rose 50 cents to $4 a box. Reese said some parents have raised concerns over the cost.
"But they know people buy the cookies to help Girl Scouts," she said. "They don't really buy them for the cookies."
Lesch agreed, saying people don't just buy the product, they also support the organization. All profits -- approximately $2.94 per box -- stays in the local community to benefit the girls.
"The cookie program really offsets the costs for camp and other programs," said Lesch. For instance, girls are able to attend camp for about $50 a week in the summer -- low in comparison to other camps, she said.
Also this year, the organization has lost some of its funding and support due to less money available, so they'll need to increase sales by 8 percent. So, the goal for the 300-plus girls in more than 30 troops in the area is 2,660 cases, said Reese.
Cookie sales will end Jan. 25. Anyone who is not approached by then that would like to purchase cookies can call Reese at 471-7745. Reese said there are often extra boxes, and people can call during the last week of February to purchase those.
Also, cookie booths will be set up at local retailers in March. Reese said no dates have been set up, and troops are still looking for businesses where they can set up.