It’s that time of year again. The time of year when you go to the local grocery store or shopping malls and hear “Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies”? This age old tradition started in 1917, five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouting in the United States. Proceeds from sales were originally disseminated to support our troops during World War I. Ninety three years ago the cookie recipe was as wholesome as the girls themselves:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies. These were the days before electric mixers, so you can imagine the hard work those little girls put into making each batch of cookies.
In 1933, Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia baked cookies and sold them in the city’s gas and electric company windows. You could purchase a box of 44 Trefoil cookies for 23 cents, or six boxes for $1.24. The goal of the cookie drive was to help girls develop their marketing and business potential, as well as to raise funds for their local Girl Scout program.
Fast forward to the year 2010. Today you can choose from 10 different cookie varieties: Dulce de Leche, Lemon Chalet Creams, Lemonades, Reduced Fat Daisy Go Rounds, Samoas, Tagalongs, Thank U Berry Munch, Thanks-A-Lot, Thin Mints, and the Original Girl Scout Cookie, the Trefoils (still approximately 44 cookies in a 10 ounce box). Today Girl Scout Cookies cost $3.50 to $4.00 a box, and are now manufactured by commercial bakeries (who receive 85 cents per box). Unfortunately, today’s ingredients are not as wholesome as they used to be. Lets take a look at a box of Trefoils, the original recipe was butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, salt and baking soda. Today’s Trefoil contains:
The other day the D-Man and I went to a local grocery store, as we approached the entrance we heard “Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies”. Before I had a chance to say no thank you the D-Man jumped in, “No, I’m on a Mission of Nutrition” he said. “Those cookies have no nutritional value, they contain gluten, refined sugars, artificial flavors, and genetically modified ingredients”. The little girl looked confused, and the little girls Mother was completely Gobsmacked. Customers who had been ready to purchase the cookies gently put the boxes down and walked away. Having been a Girl Scout, and having gone door to door selling cookies, a part of me felt badly for the little girl. I simply said that we were on a restricted diet and suggested that it might be better if we made a donation (which was gladly accepted by the Mother). When we entered the store the D-Man looked at me and said “Mommy, I did the right thing, I kept those people from buying junk food”. To be fair you can see on the label that the Girl Scout cookies no longer contain Trans Fats, a step in the right direction. According to the Girl Scout Website “Our bakers continue to experiment and develop formulations that balance the best tasting cookies using the healthiest ingredients”.
Is it possible to teach our children about nutrition? Today, we are facing a health crisis of epidemic proportions. Our children are eating more processed food than ever before, and the rate of obesity has tripled in children aged 12 to 19 since 1980. Our children are at risk for developing conditions in childhood that we had previously only seen in adults: high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. I know as a parent that it can be difficult, we are barraged with T.V. Commercials and print adds that glorify fast food. Some of our Elementary Schools have vending machines which sell sodas, cookies and candy. I truly believe that we as parents are responsible for teaching our children about nutrition and exercise; if my 6 year old can do it, so can yours.