Sitting together at a table, for the first time in years, my guests make passersby do a double take. Even the waitress can’t help but gawk when she brings over our water glasses. It’s been two decades, but she recognizes these famous treats.
“I’m sorry,” she asks in a quavering voice, “But are you the Girl Scout Cookies?”
Thin Mint, Samoa, Trefoil and Toffee-tastic exchange uncertain glances. Savanna Smiles cuts through the awkward silence with a brilliant smile (obviously) and loud voice.
“Why yes, we are,” her Southern accent is as sweet as the sugar with which she is dusted. “I take it you are a fan?”
The waitress squeals and nods. “I was a Girl Scout years ago! It’s been so long…whatever happened to you guys?”
And that is precisely the question I sought to answer. Gathering the cookies for a reunion had been no easy task. After much pleading, I finally got a handful of the original gang together. I wait, talking of non-obtrusive topics like jumpsuits, for one of them to broach what is probably a sensitive subject.
Mint talks first. She looks healthy but is no longer the waifish figure from past boxes. Despite her added curves, she has lost none of her snap.
“I was the most popular cookie. They liked us all, but when you could always count on a customer buying at least one box of Thin Mints to keep in the freezer. For the longest time, I basked in the attention. Then one day…well, I don’t honestly want to get into it, but I had some personal tragedy in my life. I ended up eating more than what my dietician allotted. I started to gain weight. Not a lot by any means, but it showed. The marketing department went nuts. ‘How are we going to sell you now? Are we going to have to rename all our packages Fat Mints?’ And that’s when I realized that they didn’t like me. They liked my image. Worse of all, that image was telling hundreds of little Girl Scouts they had to be thin to win. I, pardon the pun, snapped.”
Thin Mint grasps her glass of water angrily.
Samoa goes next. “My parents were first-generation immigrants, bakers. They came from the Pacific Islands. When I applied to be a Girl Scout Cookie, all the executives were excited and kept calling me exotic and gorgeous. They loved how different I was.” Samoa tucks her dark chocolate, without its usual flower, out of her eyes. “It’s weird as I say, but now I see how it was racist. But I was just so happy to be a part of something. But they kept pressing it.” Samoa quoted in a deep authoritative voice, “‘Samoa play this ukulele. Samoa wear this hula skirt on your neck. Samoa can you dance more ethnically?’ I got sick of being the token minority and said bye.”
“I know what you mean by token, I DO SAMOA.” Toffee-tastic addresses Samoa’s glare, “I didn’t have a minority angle but I was the token healthy option. ‘Hey, have you met Toffee-tastic? She’s gluten-free, so now your kids can ingest all of her sugary deliciousness with no consequences!' Parents ate it, and me, up. I wanted to do more for environmentalism but whenever I brought up more green options for our distribution I was told to sit down or they’d make another health option and I’d be a distant memory.”
All this time Trefoil had been quietly stirring her water with a straw. She’s not used to speaking out. Her absence from the Girl Scouts had rubbed many the wrong way. All had seemed well. her sales rivaled that of Thin Mint. Trefoil was the cookie next door that you couldn’t get out of your head. She still carries the mark of the Girl Scout logo on her body. She seems the most conflicted of the group.
“I sort of fell into the Girl Scout Cookie Life. People loved me and I loved them. One day I read a post online: an ex-Girl Scout was complaining that she didn’t have survival skills. That hit me in the gut. I believe in the Scouts, but how can we have equality if girls aren’t taught to survive like the Boy Scouts?”
“Selling cookies is great, but that’s not going to protect you from bear attack. Nine times out of ten that bear is going to want 10 pounds of flesh more than 10 boxes of Thin Mints.”
A loud throat clearing pulled everyone’s attention. Savanna, radiant as always, had something to say. “Y’all I just feel you are overthinking. You were loved and adored! Why should other people change? I think y’all need to change your attitude.”
It is safe to say that the other cookies do not agree. The looks around the table range from tired to glowering. But the Southern cookie doesn’t seem phased. She takes a drink of her water and smiles again. “I mean, I never had any issues. Everyone loves a good old fashioned American cookie.”
At this point, the hour is up. I’ve promised the treats that I wouldn’t take up too much of their precious time. They thank me and go their separate ways.
Of course, those who left were replaced by younger versions of themselves, but I wonder, in 20 years, if that second generation will be sitting around a similar table, recalling similar experiences. These thoughts run through my head as I pass by a folding table outside a grocery store. Bright-eyed girls are selling Girl Scout cookies. Would I like some, they want to know.
I shake my head and keep walking. I just don’t buy the message anymore.