It’s Girl Scout Cookie time, which means it’s time for my annual Girl Scout Cookie rant. I’m not talking about trans-fat or high-fructose corn syrup or any of the reasons people usually harsh on the tasty little treats. I’m talking about identity crisis here.
Not long after I moved to Lexington, Kentucky, I made a shocking discovery. One sunny but cold February afternoon I strolled up to a table of Brownies selling cookies in front of my local Kroger. I asked for a box of Samoas and a box of Tagalongs. Instead of handing over those brightly colored boxes that have the same photos on them since like 1980 (Seriously, they can’t update the photos? Those kids must be middle-aged by now), the girls just looked at me like I was speaking another language. It turns out that I kind of was.
When I pointed to the nearest box of Samoas, the troop leader informed me that those were called “Caramel DeLites.” She spoke slowly and distinctly, as if she were speaking to a nursing home resident or a pre-school student. I backed slowly away from the table, empty-handed and confused. What kind of bizarro world had I moved to where the Girl Scout cookies have the wrong names?
Later, thanks to the fine folks at Google, I found out that even though I had moved only 85 miles and within the same state, I had entered a place where Girl Scout cookies have aliases. A place where Samoas are called “Caramel DeLites,” Tagalongs are known as “Peanut Butter Patties,” Dos-si-dos are referred to as “Peanut Butter Sandwiches,” and Trefoils go by the moniker “Shortbreads.” Only Thin Mints are permitted to retain their identity. It was like I had stumbled into a confectionery witness protection program.
But why? Why take a snappy name like “Dos-si-do” and change to something bland like “Peanut Butter Sandwiches”? (Which is not only boring but also kind of a misnomer since it’s a cookie and not a sandwich and also somewhat confusing considering there’s also a cookie called “Peanut Butter Patties” here) Again, it was Google to the rescue. Apparently, there are two companies that produce Girl Scout cookies: ABC Bakers in Richmond, Virginia, and Little Brownie Bakers in Louisville, Kentucky. Although Lexington is only about an hour from Louisville, for some crazy reason the cookies here are shipped in from across the border.
It’s not just the names that are different—those Virginia cookies don’t taste quite the same as the ones baked in the Bluegrass. Because I have nothing better to do with my time, I once did a taste test that confirmed this. A Samoa beats a Caramel DeLite hands down.
A few years have passed since I discovered this entire Girl Scout conspiracy. Now there are several new cookies on the scene, with names like “Thanks-A-Lots” and “Lemonades,” and these names are consistent no matter which factory produces them. Still, I can’t bring myself to utter the words “Peanut Butter Patties.” It just feels wrong.