Girl Scout cookie season is here and for the first time, those who follow a gluten-free diet – anywhere in the nation – can indulge in this sweet and time-honored tradition.
After an initial launch last year, limited markets were able to get ahold of a brand new gluten-free Girl Scout cookie. Cookie lovers everywhere responded with a big YES and THANK YOU for the gluten-free variety, resulting in a national launch of two new cookie varieties this year – Trios and Toffee-tastic. In addition, the cookie program was enhanced with a new digital platform, creating an easier way for folks to order their favorite Girl Scout treats. And what makes this cookie season even more exciting is the introduction of brand new recipe contest – in conjunction with Taste of Home magazine – so cookie lovers everyone can get in the kitchen to mastermind their favorite cookie creations.
Wheat Watchers was thrilled to get the scoop from Kelly Parisi, Chief Communications Executive of Girl Scouts of the USA, about these new additions to the Girl Scout cookie program.
WW: It’s here! National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend is February 27- March 1, 2015.
Parisi: Correct! The weekend will celebrate the positive impact girls make on their communities through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. To find Girl Scouts selling cookies near you, visit www.girlscoutcookies.org.
WW: So excited that this is the first year that Girl Scout gluten-free cookies are available nationwide!
Parisi: Millions across the nation have made gluten-free diets a lifestyle change. Girl Scouts recognizes there are people avoiding gluten for various reasons, and we wanted to assure that all customers could enjoy our delicious cookies. With the success of last year’s gluten-free pilot cookie, we wanted to expand our offering to make it now available nationwide.
WW: The new gluten-free Girl Scout cookie flavors are delicious! For those who haven’t gotten to try them yet, what’s in store?
Parisi: The two new gluten-free offerings include: Toffee-tastic, buttery cookies with toffee bits, and Trios, made with real peanut butter, chocolate chips, and whole grain oats. Not all varieties are available in every market, so head to your local council’s website to see which delicious treats are available to order.
WW: Now, ordering Girl Scout cookies is easier than ever thanks to the new Digital Cookie and platforms.
Parisi: With Digital Cookie, customers will be able to buy Girl Scout Cookies through two separate digital sales platforms, depending on their market area. Some girls will market their online cookie business by inviting customers via e-mail to visit their personalized cookie websites. There, consumers can order cookies from the comfort of their living room. Other girls will take in-person orders using a unique mobile app newly enhanced to allow for credit card processing and direct shipping, in addition to directing customers to a non-personalized website where cookies can be purchased.
WW: We heard Girl Scouts had the opportunity to attend CES in Las Vegas. How was your experience introducing the platforms at the show?
Parisi: CES was a success by all accounts. We had amazing Girl Scouts from Oregon, Washington, and Nevada join us in debuting Digital Cookie to the world. When people turned the corner and saw the Girl Scouts at a booth, their eyes lit up and everyone was so excited to hear more about this expansion of our classic cookie program. Even the Wall Street Journal wrote that Digital Cookie was the thing at CES “that will change our lives or habits forever!”
WW: What a great experience! Plus, we’ve heard great feedback about how Digital Cookie is helping girls learn the essential “5 Skills” of goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
Parisi: The future of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, Digital Cookie will introduce vital 21st-century lessons about online marketing, app usage, and ecommerce to more than 1 million excited Girl Scouts who will be in the driver’s seat of their own digital cookie businesses. Digital Cookie will also allow customers to help girls learn 21st-century skills grounded in technology, along with valuable interpersonal skills girls will acquire through their continued participation in traditional booth and door to door sales.
WW: We know cookie sales are always a success. So, how much money is raise?
Parisi: Nationwide, Girl Scouts sell about 200 million boxes of cookies—nearly $800 million worth—during each cookie season.
WW: That’s a ton of boxes…and a lot of people with a sweet tooth! So, how about the money raised…does it stay directly with each local chapter?
Parisi: As with the traditional Girl Scout Cookie Program, with Digital Cookie 100 percent of the net revenue earned from cookie sales will remain with the Girl Scout council that sponsors the sale. Girls decide how to spend their troop cookie money and reinvest it in their neighborhoods through service projects and learning experiences, including travel. As a result, customers who purchase Girl Scout Cookies are not only getting a delicious treat—they are also making an important investment in their communities.
WW: It’s so exciting that gluten-free options are available all across the country? What if a flavor is not in your area, can someone still get their hands on a box?
Parisi: If you happen to know a Girl Scout in another area who has cookies that aren’t in your local community, you are welcome to support her. Purchasing cookies from a girl in a different geographic region will benefit Girl Scouts in that region.
WW: Are there plans to add to the gluten-free cookie line next year?
Parisi: Each year, the two bakers may offer up to eight varieties, which Girl Scouts of the USA then reviews and approves the proposed varieties. The process is the same for all of our delicious cookies. We will review and approve new cookie varieties as proposed by the bakers on a yearly basis.
WW: Not only are Girl Scout cookies delicious to eat right out of the box, but it’s always super fun to create your own recipes using your favorite cookie variety! We heard that this year, cookie lovers can put their cooking and creativity to good use by coming up with their own recipe to enter in the first-ever Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest, sponsored by Taste of Home. Do you have to be a trained baker or chef to enter? Are there prizes? How can our readers submit recipes?
Parisi: We are so excited about the first-ever National Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest, sponsored by Taste of Home! Chefs of all levels, from home cooks to established professionals, are encouraged to submit Girl Scout Cookie-inspired entries in one of four categories: (1) cakes, pies, cupcakes, (2) cookies, brownies, bars, (3) pudding, ice-cream, gelatin desserts, and (4) candies. The experts in the Taste of Home Test Kitchen will review and test the recipes, selecting the top 16—four from each category—based on taste, visual appeal, creativity, and crowd appeal. From March 30 to April 14, the public will have a chance to vote for their favorite finalist recipes at www.girlscouts.org/recipecontest. The recipes with the most votes in each category win, and winners will be announced in mid-April. Prizes range from $250 to $500, plus a spotlight feature in Taste of Home. To submit your favorite Girl Scout Cookie-inspired dessert recipe and view full contest guidelines, please visit girlscouts.org/recipecontest.