This Is Where Girl Scout Cookie Money Actually Goes

They were a big hit at the 2016 Oscars when host Chris Rock invited his daughters' Girl Scout troop to sell cookies during the awards — more than $65,000 dollars worth of cookies were sold as a result (via ABC). The same year, they were famously dissed by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay during a guest segment with Jimmy Kimmel (via USA Today) — and we wouldn't be surprised if folks went out after that and bought more cookies to defy the Hell's Kitchen boss as a result.

Girl Scout cookies are an institution in American food lore, and between the hype, celebrity endorsements, and our own driving need to get our hands on the seasonal treats, we might be forgiven for not bothering to find out just what the Girl Scouts mean when they remind us that their cookies are being sold for a good cause.

Girl Scouts have almost always sold cookies

Girl Scouts have been holding cookie sales for nearly as long as the organization has been around. Five years after Juleitte Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts, an Oklahoma troop held the organization's first documented cookie sale in 1917, with cookies made in their own kitchens, to raise money to buy handkerchiefs for World War I soldiers. The practice spread to other troops, and they were helped by celebrity endorsements by First Lady Grace Coolidge and baseball superstar (now legend) Babe Ruth (via Collectors Weekly).

Girl Scout memorabilia collector Carol Altvater says, "When they started selling cookies en masse, different councils would actually contract with local bakeries to make official Girl Scout cookies. A group could just go to any bakery in their city and ask, 'Would you make Girl Scout cookies for us?' There were a bunch of Girl Scout cookbooks at that time, and all of them had cookie recipes." It was not until 1936, that cookie sales became a national activity and the Girl Scouts, as an organization, licensed its first commercial bakery to make the treats to sell around the country. Today, there are two bakeries making the treats, which explains why Girl Scout cookies don't always taste the same

Girl Scouts use cookie money to help girls 'think outside the cookie box'

Because they taste so good and they're for a good cause, most of us probably don't think twice about the amount of money we pay for a box of Girl Scout cookies. But you will be happy to know that 100 percent of net proceeds from the cookie sales stay in local communities to benefit Girl Scout programs including educational programs, experiences, and community projects led by the Girl Scouts. According to their web page, Girl Scouts can also choose to donate the money to a cause as they see fit. 

That amount could be anywhere from 65 to 75 percent of the total cookie price, or between $3.25 to $3.75 a box — prices vary because each local council gets to decide the price of cookies. Romper estimated in 2018 that $800 million in total sales meant $600 million went to support girls in local communities. This means that each box of cookies you buy helps with new troop uniforms, more outdoor activities, and lessons in entrepreneurial skills including money management, business ethics, and goal-setting.