Yes, it's that time of year again. Within a few days, obedient parents begin toting order forms around the office for boxes of Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos Trefoils and other life-affirming treats.
As far as those who delve into the history of Girl Scouts can figure, cookie sales began with a troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, back in 1917. The great Merle Haggard made it clear, years ago, that they don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee; snack foods clearly made life in the town bearable before the arrival of meth--but that's an aside. Five years later, in 1922, a Chicago-based scouting director urged her council to peddle home-baked cookies for 25 to 30 cents per dozen. By 1960, bakeries were churning out such popular varieties as "Chocolate Mint," "Shortbread" and the "Peanut Butter Sandwich."
The marketing folks didn't get a hold on naming rights until sometime later, I guess.
Now, as we all know, faith in human progress and, indeed, happiness itself depends on the existence of Thin Mints. The ethereal crunch, slightly bitter coating of chocolate, burst of spearmint...there's nothing more perfect (apart from the near impossible trifecta: St. Louis Cardinals world champions, Penn St. national champs and Man. United. sweeping the Premiership in the same year--but that's just me). Thin mints account for a quarter of all Girl Scout cookie sales.
But somehow that seems insufficient.
Because the Girl Scouts happened to send a box of each kind to our office...and because I have a deal with our editorial assistant to inform me of such deliveries at least 30 minutes before she tells my freeloading colleagues...I conducted a taste test.
According to sales data, the most popular cookies are:
1. Thin Mints 25%
2. Samoas 19%
3. Tagalongs 13%
4. Do-Si-Dos 11%
5. Trefoils 9%
Judging by taste alone, Thin Mints should capture more of the market. The breakdown:
1. Thin Mints--As good as can be, although I miss the pale beige center. My score: 10/10
2. Tagalongs--Better cold, but the creamy dollop of peanut butter, together with chocolate, lends a more natural, neutral sweetness to the cookie than you find in other varieties. My score: 8/10
3. Samoas--Neck and neck with Tagalongs, the sensation of caramel melting into the cookie is always impressive. Try them cold, as well. My score: 7/10
4. Trefoils--Some people despise the simplicity of shortbread--and in truth these fall short of even Walker's brand--but the expression of vanilla is quite pleasant. One can feign sophistication with these. My score: 6/10
5. Lemon Chalet Cremes--Nice whiff of citrus on the nose, but the finish is almost too intensely tart. And the cookie itself ends up as a rather dry afterthought. My score: 5/10
6. Do-Si-Dos--The filling is fine, but the crumbly, crotchety texture of the cookie--as if loaded with sawdust--and strong smack of sugar sink this popular variety. My score: 3/10
7. Dulce de Leche--a new addition to the line up and the most artificial in flavor. A gentle vanilla finish almost saves it. My score: 3/10
8. Sugar Free Chocolate Chip--It's possible to produce edible sugar free baked goods, but these guys haven't figured out the trick. Looks like cardboard and tastes like cardboard littered with bitter gummy bears. My score: 0/10
'Course it's probably best if I try a second round, just to be sure...