New Girl Scout cookie: Can 'Smiles' compete with Thin Mints?

New Girl Scout cookie honors organization's 100th anniversary. The new Girl Scout cookie, the 'Savannah Smiles,' is a lemon shortbread cookie dusted with powdered sugar.

John Nordell/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Boxes of Girl Scout cookies are displayed in this file photo. The national organization has unveiled a new Girl Scout cookie, 'Savannah Smiles,' to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Loosen your belts and clear space in your pantry: Girl Scout cookie season is upon us.

This year, a new Girl Scout cookie will join the usual lineup of Thin Mints, Samoas, and Do-Si-Dos: In honor of Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, the club has unveiled Savannah Smiles, a lemon-wedge shortbread cookie dusted with powdered sugar.

The new treat is named after Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low’s hometown, Savannah, Ga. According to the Girl Scouts website, the new cookie has a strong lemon flavor and recalls Girl Scout cookies of the program’s early years. 

“This lemon wedge cookie is cool and crisp, with just the right number of lemon chips to deliver tiny bursts of flavor,” says a press release for Little Brownie Bakers, the company that produces Savannah Smiles and several other Girl Scout cookie varieties, including Samoas and Trefoils. “And, when you hold it right, you’ll quickly be reminded of that world-famous 'Brownie Smile.' "

The Girl Scout cookie program began in 1922, when the Girl Scouts’ American Girl magazine published recipes for simple homemade sugar cookies, suggesting local troupes sell them as a fundraising activity. The organization began licensing recipes out to commercial bakers in 1936. Today, Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers are the two licensed companies.

The Girl Scouts sell an estimated 200 million boxes of cookies per year, at around $3.50 per box. Of the 11 cookies currently available, the most popular are dark chocolate Thin Mints, which make up 25 percent of all sales. Samoas and Tagalongs are the other big sellers, comprising 19 and 13 percent of sales, respectively.

Not all cookie varieties are quite so successful. The Girl Scouts have discontinued scores of cookie varieties during the program’s run, including Aloha Chips (with macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips), Apple Cinnamons, Double Dutch (chocolate cookies with chocolate chips), and the raspberry jam-filled Ice Berry Piñatas.

Despite Girl Scouts' efforts to make their cookies healthier (in 2007, several recipes were reworked so that they had zero trans-fat), the health-minded cookie offerings sell terribly. Many sugar-free and 100-calorie cookies have been briefly available, all disappearing quickly. Daisy Go Rounds, a 100-calorie replacement of the retired Cinna-Spins, only lasted two years (2009-2011).

Indeed, Savannah Smiles sound remarkably similar to another discontinued cookie, the Lemon Cooler (lemon-flavored cookies dusted in powdered sugar).  But will it buck the trend and have the staying power of more enduring cookies?

You can soon decide for yourself. Most regional Girl Scout troops will begin cookie sales later this month, or in early February. To find a “cookie booth” in your area, visit Girl Scouts knows how to move with the times, so you can also download the  organizations official “Cookie Finder” app for your smartphone.  

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