Buy Girl Scout Cookies

Every once in awhile, it is important to take some time away from all of the hard-hitting political and social banter, and focus on the things that are really important in life. You know, like Girl Scout cookies.

Yeah, you heard me. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of months (or if you just hate food), you might not have realized that it’s that time of year again. You can feel it in the air, your internal clock shifts and something primal within you takes notice. The hunt is on, and cookies are in season.

If I’m being a little overdramatic, it’s only because I’ve been craving Tagalongs for the past month, only to discover that my little sister has quit her brief foray into scouting, leaving me high and dry without cookies to survive on for the spring — because Girl Scout cookies are nothing like regular cookies. Everyone likes Girl Scout cookies. Ten perfect flavors that only come around once a year. And sure, you try to save some in your freezer, make them last, but let’s be realistic: that hidden box of Thin Mints will be gone by March, leaving a hollow feeling in your heart (and stomach) as you head to the grocery store to gorge yourself on Oreos and Chips Ahoy, which just aren’t as good.

But then again, Oreos are only three bucks. Which beckons the question, why are Girl Scout cookies so danged expensive?

“Sure,” you think to yourself, “Four dollars isn’t a lot.” And it wouldn’t be, if you got a reasonable amount of food. Have you ever actually sat down and counted out how many Samoas are in that $4 package? Of course not, because you opened it up, and five minutes later, all the cookies were gone. A package of store-brand cookies would have cost you at least a dollar less, and would have lasted you through the week. Not to mention that those store-bought cookies are only half as bad for you.

Yup, you heard me. Have you ever looked at the nutrition facts for Girl Scout cookies? Thin Mints are 40 calories each.

Sounds innocuous enough, right? Wrong. Because that’s just one freaking cookie! Dear reader, do not lie to yourself. Never, in the history of mankind, has a human being carefully removed the tender foil wrapping from a cylinder of Thin Mints and eaten only one. I’ll be honest, I can’t stop until I’ve finished the whole roll and, even then, I’ll go back to the carton for round two. It’s some bestial need within me; I can’t help myself. But that right there, that’s pretty much my calories for the day, and I don’t even feel full, just disappointed in myself.

As an American consumer, however, you get past all that. You justify paying the extra dollar and consuming the extra trans fats, because the money goes to a good cause. You enjoy an obscenely tasty treat, the Girl Scout nonprofits pocket the cash and everybody wins, right? Apparently not, because although cookies comprise as much as two-thirds of many council budgets, one troop in Minnesota has decided to protest.

I know Girl Scout politics aren’t top priority, so I’ll just summarize with the standard: money is scarce. Money is scarce for everybody in the current economic crisis, and the Scouts are no exception. Just a few years ago, the Girl Scouts cut the number of local councils by 200 to save money, leaving a total of 112 councils in the United States but even they are struggling. In South Carolina, for example, four different Girl Scout properties have been sold, closing annual camps to hundreds of girls. When the River Valleys council tried the same thing, one troop in Minnesota decided simply not to sell cookies, out of protest. The members of the troop are speaking out against the money going to the Council, instead of being used to fund the camps directly. I’m sure that it won’t be long before lack of cookies leads to local economic crashes, rioting and the eventual fall of the apparently corrupt organization that is the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

Okay, maybe I’m being melodramatic again, and maybe a Girl Scout strike and cookie fanaticism aren’t the biggest things going on in the country today, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. We go so nuts thinking about climate change and nuclear war and economic failure that we forget about all the little things that happen all around us. So next time you bite into a Thin Mint (or god-forbid, one of those awful Samoas), take a moment to reflect. Then have another.

Ryan Cady is a first-year undeclared major. He can be reached at rcady@uci.edu.