For many folks, February is the start of the most wonderful time of the year: Girl Scout cookie season. Pretty much anyone can appreciate the combination of adorable children enthusiastically exploring the wide world of entrepreneurship with delicious cookies that only cost $5 per box. But whether you’re a Samoa devotee or desperate to try the brand new Raspberry Rally flavor, you might have noticed that it’s been tougher than usual to score your favorite Girl Scout cookies.
From supply chain turmoil to instant sell-outs, it’s been a weird time for Girl Scout cookies. Here’s everything you need to know about why the country’s most beloved bake sale has been such a shitshow this season.
How do Girl Scout Cookie sales work?
Cookies have been a part of the Girl Scouts legacy since 1917, when a group of Scouts sold cookies they’d baked themselves to raise money for activities. These days, there are two ways to buy Girl Scout cookies. You’re likely familiar with the first: in-person sales, which means encountering an adorable Scout with a table full of Samoas, Do-Si-Dos, and Trefoils in front of your local grocery store or hair salon. Before cookie season actually begins, troop leaders place orders online for the cookies they expect to sell, and they’re divided up among the Scouts for in-person sales.
Girl Scouts sold cookies exclusively in person until 2014, when the organization launched its Digital Cookie platform in an effort to modernize its cookie sales program and allow consumers to shop online. On the Digital Cookie platform, shoppers can input their zip code and the organization will ensure that the proceeds from the order benefit a local troop. The organization then ships the cookies directly to the buyer’s door, no direct interaction with tiny humans required. Each Scout also receives a link to a Digital Cookie website that their friends and family can use to directly support their Scout during cookie season.
Why are some Girl Scout cookies so hard to find this year?
As has been widely reported, many Girl Scout troops say that they’ve had trouble ordering the cookies that they sell in-person every year. The Girl Scouts have contracts with two bakeries — Little Brownie Bakers (or LBB) and ABC Cookies, and each supplies cookies to troops in different regions of the country. The cookies have slight differences depending on which bakery makes them — the Samoas from Little Brownie Bakers are called Caramel deLites when they’re made by ABC Cookies, for example.
In November 2022, Girl Scout leaders were notified that Little Brownie Bakers was “experiencing supply chain issues” that would impact the 2023 cookie season, both in-person sales and online. It’s a little bit complicated, but essentially the shortages meant that each troop would receive its initial cookie order, placed back in January, but if the troop sold out early, they may not be able to place orders in the future. Some troop leaders, though, have suggested on platforms like Reddit that even some of those initial orders were canceled by Little Brownie Bakers, especially those that contained Raspberry Rally cookies.
According to a Girl Scouts spokesperson, the shortages were exacerbated by recent power outages at a Little Brownie Bakers factory in Louisville, Kentucky. “We can confirm that we were notified by Little Brownie Bakers that they experienced severe weather resulting in power outages at the Louisville factory,” the spokesperson said. “We are extremely disappointed that LBB is again having challenges with managing their production.”
As for online orders, what’s available right now varies, depending on where you’re located in the country. Even though they’re both in regions supplied by Little Brownie Bakers, if you’re buying from a troop in Eastern Oklahoma, you can score pretty much any cookie other than the sold-out Raspberry Rally. Buyers hoping to support Scouts in Beverly Hills, California, however, are limited only to three options: Adventurefuls, S’mores and Thin Mints.
Why is the Raspberry Rally cookie particularly scarce?
New Girl Scout Cookie flavors are always popular, but the Raspberry Rally sparked a frenzy that even the Girl Scouts didn’t anticipate. “We saw unprecedented demand for Raspberry Rally, which sold at an astronomical pace,” the Girl Scouts spokesperson said, though they declined to provide a specific number of boxes sold. The raspberry-flavored, chocolate-coated cookie sold out online entirely in less than a day when it launched online on January 27, and at least some of the precious few boxes that did make their way out into the world have ended up on eBay for as much as $40 per box. After that story went viral, the Girl Scouts asked consumers to avoid the gray-market cookies, noting that the funds from each year’s cookie sales go directly to supporting local Girl Scout troops.
Is this the first time that Girl Scout cookie season has been so chaotic?
Nope! Little Brownie Bakers experienced similar production issues just last year, after the Girl Scouts introduced Adventurefuls, a crispy brownie cookie with a “salted caramel creme” filling. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, those shortages were caused by staffing issues at the bakery, which delayed the training and ordering process that Girl Scouts go through before cookie sales actually begin to the public.
As far as this year is concerned, the spokesperson says that Girl Scouts leadership is “keeping all options open to do right by our girls.” “Right now, GSUSA is focused on supporting our Girl Scouts, our volunteers and their councils through this challenging cookie season, but we will address these issues with our baker partner in the future.”
What if I want to buy cookies right now?
The Girl Scouts have “worked hard to protect girls’ in-person booths by routing available inventory to in-person channels,” according to the spokesperson, which means that there could be a cookie sale near you this weekend. For those who need to buy online, the Cookie Finder will also help route you to a nearby Scout’s cookie website. If the cookie selection is limited in your area, you can try out other zip codes where there may be more options, and still have the cookies shipped to wherever you’re actually located. Your dollars won’t benefit your local troop if you shop this way, but you’ll still be supporting the Girl Scouts.