Dorri Partain

America’s largest cookie sale began with one Girl Scout troop in 1917. The “Mistletoe” troop of Muskogee, Okla., had a successful cookie sale as a service project, and the idea quickly spread to other troops across the country.

The Girl Scouts of America started in Savannah, Georgia with a fledgling group of 18 girls, led by founder Juliette Low (1860-1927) in 1912. The trefoil symbol was chosen to represent this new group and their three-fold Girl Scout promise, recited while holding up three fingers.

In 1922, the official magazine for the scouts, “American Girl,” published a cookie recipe as an economical way for troops to raise funds. The simple sugar cookie’s ingredients could be purchased for less than 36 cents, while producing 67 dozen cookies. In turn, each dozen could be sold for 25 to 30 cents.

The cookies were packed and sealed in wax paper bags and sold door-to-door, sometimes with a card that read: “COOKIES large and cookies small, made by SCOUTS both short and tall. What’s your ORDER? Phone us quick so that we may do the trick. THIRTY CENTS is all we ask, and we find it is no task, to DELIVER to your door, DOZENS – one, two, three – or more! Telephone # _”

Troops may or may not have used a trefoil cookie cutter, which was available for 15 cents.

Commercial bakeries first produced ready-baked cookies for the Greater Philadelphia Council of Girl Scouts in 1934, which got the scouts out of the kitchen so they could concentrate on their business skills.The ever-popular Thin Mint cookie was introduced in 1951 and has remained a staple offered year after year.

In keeping with the times, sugar-free and gluten-free varieties have been added to yearly offerings and the scouts have changed how they market the cookies. Replacing door-to-door sales, scouts now learn how to set up cookie booths at local businesses and how to sell cookies online. A new app, Digital Cookie, allows users to find and order cookies on their smartphone. Looking for cookies? Go to to find a local cookie booth.