If chocolate chip cookies are cookies made with chocolate chips and peanut butter cookies are cookies made with peanut butter, then what are Girl Scout cookies made of?
As a new homeowner, I am placed in the unique position for the first time of having a chubby elementary school girl come to my door pushing cookies. I said no. My wife, had she answered the door, surely would have said yes because she's a much nicer person then me, and she is a former Girl Scout who wouldn't mind getting a box of Thin Mints.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Girl Scout. I'm not even necessarily anti-Girl Scout Cookies...but I think that the Girl Scout Cookie machine is crazy.
In the United States there are regulations limiting employment to those under the age of 16, largely to protect against labor abuse. Similarly, there are laws that require minimum wages and taxes to be paid in association with wages.
When Girl Scouts began selling their first cookies almost 100 years ago, it is my understanding that it was like a well-organized bake sale, with little girls working with their moms to raise money for their troops and organizations.
Today, the Girl Scout Cookie machine is out of control. Cookies sell for $4 a box, but only 40 to 60 cents per box goes to the actual Girl Scout troop. Beyond that about 50% of the purchase price goes to the Girl Scout organization, and the rest goes to the cookie manufacturers.
First off, that's a lot of money and profits going to the Girl Scouts organization earned on the backs of little girls going door to door selling cookies, and their parents pushing and coercing co-workers to buy cookies.
Second, for such a small percentage of the profits to go to the individual Girl Scout Troop, it almost makes you wonder why so many Girl Scouts and Girl Scout parents feel so compelled and motivated to make sure every person on their street and in their office is receiving 5 boxes of Tagalongs, Thin Mints, and Carmel Delights/Samoas.
Third, at $4 a box, the Girl Scouts and the Girl Scout Cookie makers are really ripping people off. The cookies are more expensive then comparable brands...especially for the quantity of cookies you are receiving. And especially if you consider the fact that these cookies are sold with the majority of marketing and labor expensive being absorbed by volunteer children and mothers. These cookies aren't competing on the shelves of local supermarkets and stores, so they don't require the same type of sales. And they also aren't even in production year 'round. So there is significant profits for everyone involved, the least amount of profit going to the individual Girl Scouts and troops.
Fourth, for all this hard work, Girl Scouts are getting the lame prizes that are associated with any youth fundraising activity. Cheap stuffed animals, ribbons, trinkets, and the general garbage that is essentially worthless. All for hours of standing at booths in front of grocery stores and fairs, going door to door, and asking their parents to pass the sign up sheet around their offices.
Again, I'm not critical of the girl who came to my door. Good for her and for her dedication to her organization and her go-get-'em attitude that puts her in the awkward position of ringing my doorbell to get a pre-order for rip-off cookies.
In every town and city across America, there is a girl that is succeeding and breaking cookie sale records. The above picture is of a girl named Samantha Longenecker from Portage, Michigan who is a record breaker 3 years in a row in her area, one year selling 2,000 cookies. Or what about Jasmine Osborn of Marshall, Missouri selling a 1,000 boxes. Or on even a grander scale, the 2008 record holder Jennifer Sharp from Dearborn Michigan who sold 17,328 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.
Last year the cookies were $3.50 a box, so that means Jennifer Sharp alone sold over $61,000 dollars in cookies. This is by no means a small operation.
I think that these girls are inspirations for their hard-edged dedication to sales, and that these girls should be snatched up to work for any number of sales and marketing driven businesses, and deserve significant compensation for having such an important American capitalistic skill.
Yet it's sad to think how these school-age girls are breaking their backs, putting themselves in dangerous situations by ringing the doorbells of strangers and parading around town selling cookies, when the majority of the fundraiser goes to serve the Girls Scouts of the USA organization (GSUSA), surely providing the funds necessary to provide hefty salaries for their staff.
I'm sure the Girls Scouts upper leadership is pushing those Girl Scout Cookie sales harder then anyone else, because they know that's where their paycheck comes from. Do GSUSA leadership like CEO Kathy Cloninger, Executive Vice President Norma I. Barquet, CFO Florence Corsello (who surely tracks those cookie sales very closely), Senior VP Of Funds Development Delphia York Duckens (also watching those cookie sales), Chief Marketing Officer Laurel J. Richie, or any of the rest of the staff feel sorry for these girls who are dedicating so much time and energy to selling cookies for the sole purpose of bolstering exec paychecks, earning a cookie patch for their uniform and a lame prize?