What’s in a thin mint? Well, that depends

Posted at 11:06 AM, Mar 20, 2017

When is a Samoa not a Samoa?

It turns out that not all Girl Scout cookies are created equal.

That's because there are two officially licensed bakeries in the U.S., and each has its own slightly different take on the iconic favorites.

For one thing, the cookie names are different.

Troops that use Little Brownie Bakers, based in Louisville, Kentucky, sell cookies called Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Trefoils and Savannah Smiles.

But troops that use Richmond, Virginia based ABC Bakers sell Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbreads and Lemonades.

Both bakeries make Thin Mints and the scouts' newest flavor, S'mores. The two versions of the Thin Mint look and taste slightly different, while the two versions of the S'mores are entirely different cookies.

The Thin Mints from ABC Bakers are crunchier and taste mintier, while the ones from Little Brownie have a smoother chocolate coating.

How do they compare?

Likewise, Samoas and its ABC Bakery counterpart, Caramel deLites, have similar shapes. But Samoas have a stronger, sweet coconut taste.

Even their calorie counts differ. Samoas have 10 more calories per serving, but Caramel deLites have slightly more sugar.

Then there are the cookies that look completely different -- right to down to packaging.

The Little Brownie version of S'mores looks like a graham cracker sandwich, while the ABC Bakers version looks like a chocolate covered square.

The one thing that's consistent across the board: the cookies' popularity.

Regardless of where they come from, Thin Mints are the top seller, followed by Samoas/Caramel deLites and then Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties, according to the Girl Scouts.

Cookies on a "mission"

This year marks the 100th year of the first known Girl Scout cookie sale. That was in 1917, when scouts in Muskogee, Oklahoma decided to sell the homemade cookies they baked as a way to help fund projects.

Since then, the cookie program has become largest entrepreneurial venture geared toward girls around the world.

Close to a million girls participate in the cookie program every season, selling about 200 million boxes of cookies and grossing roughly $800 million.

The profits go to the local councils and troops to fund all kinds of programs for the girls, from business to leadership.

Girl Scout Cadet Leena Iwamoto, 11, of Troop 3601 in San Diego, California has been selling cookies for 7 years. She says the skills she's learned will help her when she grows up to be a forensic scientist.

"The leadership skills will probably help me," she said. "You have to handle all your money and not lose any of it when you are selling cookies," she adds, and that will come in handy when she has to manage evidence safely.

Of course, you can now buy Girl Scout cookies online, via the organization's Digital Cookie platform, which launched in 2014, and there's an app.

But there is still no substitute for pounding the pavement the good old fashioned way.

Audrey Bakst, 8, a Brownie in Girl Scout Troop 57379 in the St. Paul, Minnesota area, has sold 250 boxes so far, going door to door with a wagon full of cookies. Her goal is to sell 550 boxes this year.

That lines up perfectly with what the Girl Scouts call the "5 skills essential to leadership, to success, and to life" -- goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

"I want to be a teacher," Bakst said. "And adding up the cookie money might help me."