I recently contacted Keebler regarding their lower cost knock-off versions of Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and Samoas that are available everywhere year-round. They never responded. A reader suggested that I contact the Girl Scouts regarding this relationship. Good idea!
Dear Girl Scouts,
I’ve been a big fan of your cookies for my entire life.
Every spring, everyone scrambled to find a local Girl Scout to place the big order. As a paperboy, I always heard whispered tales of Mrs. Fredricks, who stashed them in her basement chest freezer, in order to have uninterrupted cookie supplies year-round.
Based on Mrs. Fredericks’ treatment of her paperboy, I would assume that she was buying, not out of obligation to Scouting, not out of fondness for her local Girl Scout, but out of pure fondness of Thin Mints and Tagalongs.
Recently, I noticed something odd. Keebler had “knock-off” versions of Thin Mints (Grass Hoppers),
Samoas (Coconut Dreams), and Tagalongs (Peanut Butter filled chocolate cookies). These packages had more cookies, and cost almost half of what Girl Scout cookies cost. This concerns me.
I realize Keebler produces Girl Scout Cookies. I asked Keebler for more info about this relationship, with no reply. I had always assumed that you give Keebler a contract, recipes, the specifications, the quantities, and the delivery dates, and they come back with cookies.
I view Girl Scout Cookie patrons as one of three categories (with some admitted overlap, of course): 1) Family, friends, coworkers of Girl Scouts, who feel obligated. 2) People who are passionate about scouting, who feel obligated. 3) People who absolutely love Girl Scout Cookies (which is a big percentage). Category three contains the folks, who in days past, would have filled their chest freezer. Now, why would they if a) they don’t feel obligated and b) they can buy the Keebler knock-off version year round?
Keebler is cutting into the Girl Scouts’ proceeds by having these knock-off versions. They aren’t exact—the Grasshopper is sweeter and chocolatier than the Thin Mint. The ingredients, fat, sugar, carb contents are all slightly different. Does this bother the Girl Scouts? Does Keebler provide some secret donation in exchange for this? I guess I’m wondering if this bothers you.
Any information and clarification that you can provide is greatly appreciated.
As a former Boy Scout, I understand the tent posts of your organization, and appreciate you taking the time to explain. I understand that Girl Scouting is much more than cookies and fundraising. I know a Girl Scout. She’s great. She sold over 100 boxes to friends, relatives, friends of relatives, friends of friends, coworkers of relatives, neighbors, customers of relatives, kind folks at the grocery store, and so on.
I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of people who buy these—people with Celiac who can’t eat them. People on diets, who won’t eat them. People with diabetes, who shouldn’t eat them. People who don’t even like them.
At the end of her effort, she was short of her troop’s individual goal by 15 boxes. Guess who bought those 15 boxes?
I was glad to do it. I love the cookies. But as I was writing that check, I couldn’t help but think—how much less “special” Santa Claus might be to a young child, if someone named “Harold” gave that young child gifts every Wednesday. In this case, Girl Scouts is Santa. Cookie Season is Christmas Season, and “Harold” is Keebler. Cookie season isn’t as special because “Harold” is cutting the anticipation, and the “what’ll I do when I run out” aftermath. “Wednesday’ll be here again soon.”
As part of a disagreement with a friend, I bought some of these knock-offs for a blind test. I must admit, the cashier gave me a dirty look as I handed her my Grasshoppers and Coconut Delights. I was embarrassed—I felt downright slimy.
On the surface, they look similar. The ingredients are different enough, and the Thin Mint version tastes different enough. The
Samoa version tastes very similar, but is round. At the end of my blind trial, I determined that these cookies, while inferior, would cure my Girl Scout cookie craving.
It sounds like Keebler is a little like Fight Club, and we all know what Rule #1 is about Fight Club. So you buy cookies from Keebler. And as thanks to you, they turn around and make a knock-off version. Apparently, you’re not able to comment. Maybe you don’t want to because the long arm of a massive corporation packs a whollop.
It’s disappointing to me. Keep up all the good work with the Girl Scouts.
Thanks for responding,
Post# 163: Walmart Great Value Stuffing Is a Great Value Because It Contains Paper
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