It's cookie time

Feb. 04, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

On Saturday morning in Lenoir, bundled-up girls waved signs by the road and arranged stacks of lemon- and mint- and grape-colored boxes.

Then a car eased up to the drive-thru at Blue Moose Coffee Lodge. The girls glanced carefully at their leaders to make sure it was OK, then converged on it.

“Hello,” they chimed in chorus as the window rolled down. “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”

The car’s driver happily obliged, handing over crumpled cash for a stack of Thin Mint boxes.

It’s Girl Scout cookie time.

In Caldwell County, 192 Girl Scouts in 17 troops sell thousands of boxes of cookies each year — in 2013, the total came in at approximately 25,000.

For the members of Troop 2368 in Lenoir — the same girls who pitched to coffee-drinkers at Blue Moose on Saturday — cookie selling is a real commitment. The girls spend something like five hours a week on cookie sales from January to March, troop co-leader Jenny Marmalejo said.

The girls are responsible first for selling door-to-door, then for staffing “cookie booths” set up in front of local businesses. Older girls are tasked with contacting businesses themselves to gain permission to set up booths. Scouts complete “cookie training” each year, learning how to advertise a product, how to pitch it to a customer and how to stay safe in the process.

It’s a process that helps girls learn how to deal with money — how to make it, how to handle it, and what it will buy, said Lauren Hodges, leader of Troop 2376. This year, Hodges brought in Rose Noakes, the owner of the Irish Rose Bed and Breakfast in Lenoir, to give her girls a quick primer on business sense before the cookie season began.

The girls keep 57 to 67 cents per $4 box sold, depending on whether they cash in some of the funds raised for incentives and prizes. That money can buy anything a troop needs — often, it’s a special trip or activity for the girls.  

Unlike some kids’ fundraising endeavors, the cookies are relatively easy to sell, Hodges said. Last year, her four-member troop sold 997 boxes. This year, with membership up to 12, she hopes to sell 3,000.

People who don’t eat cookies themselves can buy boxes for soldiers, through the Scouts’ Operation Sweet Treat program. Dieters and diabetics often do that, troop leaders said, or they’ll hand the girls a little cash and say it’s a donation. Troop 2376 had one customer hand the Scouts money and tell them to buy boxes of cookies for themselves.

Beyond the typical Girl Scout fare, there are usually a few new options to choose from — including last year’s ill-fated mango crèmes and this year’s whole-grain cranberry citrus crisps. And a few of the cookies are vegan (Lemonades, Thanks-A-Lots, Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties, if you’re watching your animal-byproduct intake).

But the best sellers from year to year are the classics, area troop leaders said.

Amber Waters, the co-leader of Troop 2368, said Caramel deLites won out with the most pre-orders this year.

Hodges echoed that, saying it’s usually a three-way race between Caramel deLites, Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties.

Troop 2376 prefers the latter. On Saturday, they took a break from selling to buy a $4 orange box for themselves, leaning up against the wall of Tractor Supply Co. in Lenoir and divvying them up.

It was just another box to add to this year’s total.