The Business Side of Girl Scout Cookies


Your intrepid writer here has eaten tons of Girl Scout cookies in the last few weeks which qualifies said glutton as an expert witness.  A little curiosity about the business side of the operation revealed some interesting information.

About a hundred years ago, an Oregon Girl Scout troop organized a bake sale.  Now a century later, the Girl Scouts of America presides over a $700 million cookie empire.

In the 1950s the organization added three new recipes to its original sugar cookie: “Shortbreads,” “Peanut Butter Sandwich” and the iconic “Thin Mints.” By 1956 there were six varieties.

As baby boomer children swelled the ranks of Girl Scout troops throughout America in the 1960s, sales of cookies increased dramatically as individual troops grew in membership and more troops took up cookie sales.

The Samoa (now renamed Caramel deLite), a caramel, coconut and chocolate covered cookie, was released during America’s Bicentennial year in 1976 and now accounts for 19 percent of the total sales.  By the 1980s, Girl Scout cookies were such a major player on the market that one of the country’s largest commercial bakeries, Keebler, partnered with the Girl Scouts.  Today, Keebler is one of only two licensed producers of Girl Scout cookies.

Revenue from the sales of Girl Scout cookies has been around $700 million since 1999, based on sales of 200 million boxes at $3.50 per box.  For each box sold, 75 percent of the money goes to the local council, while 25 percent goes to bakeries.  The Girl Scout national headquarters also receives royalties for licensing.

Of the millions of boxes sold every year, the most current breakdown of sales and revenue by variety is:

1. Thin Mints — $175 million
2. Samoas (Caramel deLites) — $133 million
3. Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties) — $91 million
4. Do-si-dos/Savannahs (Peanut Butter Sandwiches) — $71 million
5. Trefoils (Shortbread) — $63 million
6. Other Varieties — $167 million

In a purely altruistic effort to provide complete and accurate information, your working boy here has eaten them all.  (The things I’m forced to do in this line of work!)

My favorite: Caramel deLites.

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About William Bruce

President, American Business Brokers Association / Business Broker and Accredited Business Intermediary assisting business buyers and sellers with the transfer of ownership since 1986 / Author: How to Buy a Business.
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