What Goes Into the Production of a New Girl Scout Cookie Brand

By Rachel King —

The Girl Scout Cookie Program still holds the top spot as the largest financial investment in girls annually in the United States, but the program doesn’t rest on old favorites alone.

This week, Girl Scouts is unveiling the newest cookie to join the 2020 lineup: Lemon-Ups, crispy and sweet lemon biscuits.

GSUSA is also updating its packaging so that it reflects how proceeds from the cookie sales are used: namely, to support young female entrepreneurs and leaders by financing both outdoor adventures and STEM programming. The updated images on the packaging are designed to depict a diverse range of experiences available to members: from adventure-packed camping and canoeing, to exploring space science and robot design, to taking action to improve their communities.

The timeline for introducing new Girl Scout Cookies varies, but over the past decade, the Girl Scouts of the USA has been debuting new cookies every one to two years. In 2018, for example, the Caramel Chocolate Chip cookie was brought to market, joining a growing lineup of gluten-free Girl Scout cookies, such as the Toffee-tastic (a buttery cookie with sweet and crunchy golden toffee bits) and the Trios (a peanut butter oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips).

As far as other specialized dietary needs, Girl Scouts Cookies are produced for a short season once a year, which the company says makes the production of specialty cookies challenging. And so far, the demand has not been great enough to make it economically feasible to expand beyond gluten-free.

Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scouts is the largest organization to serve girls in the U.S.
Volunteer Katie O'Neill, 29, of Orange, and several of her First American Title co-workers stack Caramel deLites as they load up vehicles during the Girl Scout Cookie Mega Drop at the Anaheim Business Complex in Anaheim on Saturday, January 26, 2019.

There’s a lot that goes into the process, from brainstorming new cookies to helping Girl Scouts prepare for cookie season. In partnership with the program’s bakers, GSUSA starts by doing a market assessment and looking into flavors that could be popular or trending with consumers. Then GSUSA collaborates with bakers to develop a new recipe, name the cookie, design the product and packaging, and photograph it. 

Many factors go into naming a Girl Scout Cookie, but among the top priorities are choosing a name that conveys deliciousness and that girls are able to say (and thereby sell). Troop leaders and volunteers are trained to help girls of all ages understand the product, be able to say its name and describe it to customers, and learn how to market it.

“We are one of the only—or perhaps the only—brands that design a cookie with girls in mind from the start, since they are the only ones who sell it,” says a spokesperson for Girl Scouts of the USA. For example, the new Lemon-Ups cookies are described as being inspired by Girl Scout entrepreneurs and are embossed with words like “go-getter” and “leader.”

"These messages not only remind girls about the leadership abilities they already possess within them, but they also remind consumers that buying Girl Scout Cookies powers amazing and important experiences for girls," Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo tells Fortune. "Whether it’s through selling the new Lemon-Ups cookie, Lemonades, or any other cookie in our lineup, the Girl Scout Cookie Program fosters a multitude of business and life skills in girls, preparing them to be the ambitious entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow."

Girl Scout Cookie earnings stay local as individual councils depend on cookie earnings to run their programming, and girls decide how to invest their troop’s portion of the earnings in community projects and leadership opportunities. "It varies locally but there are numerous ways cookie earnings benefit STEM programs for girls," Acevedo explains. "Many councils choose to put their portion of the cookie proceeds towards STEM events, programming, badge workshops, or robotics activities."

Girls can also choose to spend their cookie earnings on STEM programs or projects. For example, an all-Girl Scout robotics team from Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson that used some of their cookie earnings to power their team. And Girl Scouts of Central Texas’ scuba troop runs an underwater cookie booth and use their funds for their ocean conservation efforts.

Girl Scout Cookies can only be purchased from a registered Girl Scout. Interested buyers can search online for the nearest Girl Scout troop selling cookies. And given that this is 2020, there is an official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app for iOS and Android. Lemon-Ups will be offered in select Girl Scout council markets for only as long as supplies last.

— Via Fortune.com