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It’s Girl Scout Cookie time again, and many parents may be echoing the words of stay-at-home Detroit dad Eric Halbeisen: "I got so I never wanted to hear another word about Tra-La-La’s or Do-Si-Do’s or Yippie-Ki-Yi-Yay’s."

The girls themselves, or grown-up girls, are less jaded. Detroiter Laurie Townsend has fond memories of the annual sale.

"Going out there selling made me feel important," says Townsend. Sales couldn’t begin until a certain hour on a certain day. A Girl Scout would never cheat, of course, by jumping the gun. Townsend remembers waiting impatiently for the stroke of 3 p.m., and racing the other girls on her block to hit up the neighbors.

One of today’s top sellers in the metro area is 14-year-old Jenisha Evans of Oak Park, who enlists her mom and five aunts to take orders at work. She sold 2,555 boxes in one year.

With their earnings, her troop has traveled to Jamaica, Chicago and Disney World, and will hit New York this spring.

Jenisha says her customers’ only complaint is that she doesn’t sell cookies all year.

The Girl Scouts are the second-largest cookie-sellers in the country, topped only by Nabisco. But this year, Kristin Knudson Harris of the Michigan Metro Girl Scout Council is concerned.

"With the snow and with schools being closed, some girls haven’t had the opportunity to take their order cards out in their neighborhoods. Cookie sales represent over 60 percent of the Council’s operating budget."

(The Boy Scouts, according to Crain’s Detroit Business, rely on donations from corporations and individuals. "There are far fewer former Girl Scouts in business executive suites than former Boy Scouts," Crain’s noted.)

Cookies are also the chief fundraiser for the local troops, who make 45 cents on each $3 box they sell. Unless they’re superstars like Oak Park’s Troop 1427, they use the money for outings such as camping or trips to the Science Center in Toledo.

Last year the 41,000 Girl Scouts in the Metro Council (parts of Wayne and Oakland counties) sold 2.5 million boxes, with Tagalongs — a peanut butter-topped cookie dipped in chocolate — the biggest sellers. (Nationally, Thin Mints are most popular.)

This year, they hope to boost sales with two new varieties: Lemon Drops and Apple Cinnamon. Lemon drops are a lemon cookie with creamy lemon chips (like chocolate chips); the apple-shaped cookies have reduced fat.

Trends are against a low-fat Girl Scout cookie, however. Knudson Harris says the cookies "have gone from the classic, traditional ones to more chocolatey, gooey. Talking with folks from the national office and with the bakers, the trend in cookies in general is, if people want a cookie, they want a cookie."

If you crave Samoas, Trefoils or Striped Chocolate Chips, but no Girl Scout comes to your door, you have four choices:

1. Call the nearest school and ask if there’s a troop that meets there, then contact the troop leader.

2. Order from this Web site (think mmm, mmm, Girl Scout cookies), and they’ll be sent by mail.

3. Call the Cookie Hotline at 800-326-0309, ext. 297.

4. Drop by the Michigan Metro Girl Scout Council’s new Girl Scout Shop, on the main floor of Detroit’s Fisher Building.

— Jane Slaughter


Sample flavors from more than 20 restaurants at the 12th annual Taste of West Bloomfield, this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Henry Ford Medical Center (Maple and Drake Road) in West Bloomfield. Call 248-626-3636 for tickets. ... Oysters are supposed to be an aphrodisiac, so Ipswich Shellfish is offering a Valentine to remember: A dozen oysters in a heart-shaped box, sent to your sweetie by mail, for $19.95. Call 888-FISH-2-GO to order.

About The Author

Jane Slaughter

When she's not reviewing restaurants, Jane Slaughter also writes about labor affairs, having co-founding the labor magazine Labor Notes. Her writing has also appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Monthly Review, and In These Times.
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