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What happens to leftover Girl Scout Cookies?

Girl Scout Cookies at the Dump

Girl Scout cookies are one food that I’ve never had leftovers of – whether they were homemade or purchased from a local Girl Scout. The cookies are simply too tasty to become leftovers in my house, and they freeze very well so it is easy to tuck them away for long term storage. But local Girl Scout Councils themselves often have leftover Girl Scout cookies that are unsold at the end of cookie season. The Councils order huge quantities of cookies for the local Scout troops to sell and try to project how many cookies they’ll need for the season based on sales the previous year. Sometimes, these estimates are off and they will run out of popular cookies. Other times, Councils may end up with thousands of boxes of unsold product.

CBS in Los Angeles recently discovered that more than a few of these leftover cookies were being disposed of at a local landfill, and had video of workers destroying some 13,200 excess boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. The cookies were tracked back to the Council that ordered them, who said that the bakery that supplies them with their cookies – ABC Bakery – allows them to return up to 1% of all the cookies they buy without paying for them when they have ordered too many in a given year. These cookies were the ones that the Council had returned to the bakery, which did not directly return CBS’s response for comment on the issue.

There are two bakeries that produce GS cookies – Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakery – and this incident has raised questions about what is being done and what should be done with unsold cookies. Over-ordering does happen because it’s impossible to project what demand will be perfectly, so this question is likely to come up again and again. The Southern California Girl Scout Council in question assured reporters that they donate tens of thousands of boxes to local charities and food banks, that the cookies being destroyed were just those that they had returned. There appears to be no official policy with what is to be done with excess Girl Scout Cookies at the moment, but it sounds like the Girl Scouts will soon be coming out with one, as there is clearly a need for Councils and the bakeries that produce the cookies to be able to dispose of extra cookies in a way that represents the Girl Scouts well. Hopefully, it is one where the extra cookies will end up going to good use and not ending up in a landfill.

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  • Hi. I just wanted to let you know that my council will be purchasing back any unsold cookies and donating them to our troops and/or to local shetlers. Our local San Gogornio council in Southern California has made a pledge to not destroy any leftover cookies.

  • Nicole
    February 22, 2013

    That is great to hear, Donna! What a great use of leftovers =)

  • Laurie C
    February 24, 2013

    I see why this is upsetting, but understand why the Girl Scouts national organization may not want unsold cookies to get “remaindered” like unsold/returned books. Customers might start waiting for the discounted cookies to come on the market. It’s not as though nutritious food is being destroyed, after all. It’s too late to get back the eggs and dairy and peanut butter that goes into the cookies and donate them to the shelters and food banks! The solution seems to me to sell the cookies year-round!

  • Sarah
    February 27, 2013

    Little Brownie Bakers was always the producer of GS cookies when I was a scout. ABC Bakery produces a mediocre product that lacks flavor, has a stale texture, and many of their cookies don’t even have the same names. I have no qualms about the rising cost of cookies because I have never been disappointed by LBB GS Cookies. However I now ask which bakery they use before buying.

  • Tom
    May 13, 2013

    As a Member of the Armed Forces, The care packages from The Scouts were always the best! I remember sitting in the desert and I opened up a box of thin mints. Helped me remember home even though I was so far away.

    Semper Fi

  • Jon Baum
    January 4, 2014

    As far as I’m concerned, all gril scout cookies contain GMOs and therefore are toxic.

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