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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Girl Scout Cookies

Plus, an unimpeachable ranking of the best cookie flavors

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Array of Girl Scout cookies on a pink background. Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

In 2024, Girl Scout Cookies have fully staked their place in the American culinary zeitgeist. Whether you’re a Samoas fan or a Thin Mint devotee, nearly everyone is happy to shell out as much as $6 to score a box of their favorite Girl Scout cookie — and support a longstanding organization that benefits girls across the country (not to mention argue endlessly about what cookie is truly The Best One). With the 2024 Girl Scout cookie season officially upon us, here’s everything you need to know about this beloved cookie tradition.

When is Girl Scout cookie season?

The exact timing depends on where you live, but generally speaking it occurs for only six to eight weeks each year. The majority of cookie sales are held between January and April, but some troops begin slinging cookies as early as September. Find out when cookies go on sale in your area here.

Where can I buy Girl Scout cookies?

Good question. The Girl Scouts website has a handy cookie locator that will help you track them down by entering your zip code. In general, Girl Scouts tend to set up shop outside high-traffic areas frequented by people who probably like cookies — think grocery stores and big-box stores such as Target and Walmart.

In 2014, the Scouts launched online ordering, and even if you don’t buy in person, your purchase can still benefit a local troop. The Scouts’s website prompts buyers to input their zip code, and then redirects them to a local troop’s page to complete the purchase. If you need cookies ASAP, the site will also serve up a list of locations where you can find a group of Scouts selling IRL.

Girl Scout cookies in their boxes lined up on a table. Tom Simpson/Flickr

Who makes Girl Scout cookies?

In the beginning, the Scouts baked their own sugar cookies and sold them door-to-door; it wasn’t until the late 1930s that the organization began contracting commercial bakers to produce the cookies en masse. Today, every Girl Scout cookie sold in America is produced by one of two big bakeries: Little Brownie Bakers (which is actually a subsidiary of Keebler), or ABC Smart Cookies. Troops choose which baker they purchase from, and each baker makes them using slightly different recipes and different names. That’s right, Peanut Butter Patties and Tagalongs are basically the same thing from different companies, as are Caramel DeLites and Samoas, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Do-Si-Dos. (Thin Mints are Thin Mints no matter where you are in the country, though.)

What are the Girl Scout cookie flavors in 2024?

The 2024 lineup of flavors is as follows:

  • Thin Mints: a crispy chocolate-mint wafer coated in chocolate
  • Samoas: crispy coconut and caramel-coated ring-shaped cookies with chocolatey stripes
  • Tagalongs: crunchy cookies topped with a layer of peanut butter and dipped in chocolate
  • Trefoils: shortbread cookies
  • Do-Si-Dos: a peanut butter sandwich cookie
  • Adventurefuls: a chocolate, brownie-ish cookie with a dollop of caramel “creme” in the center.
  • Caramel Chocolate Chip: Gluten-free, chewy cookies with caramel and chocolate chips.
  • Lemonades: lemon-iced shortbread cookies
  • Lemon-Ups: also a lemon cookie, but with “inspirational messages” printed on it.
  • Girl Scout S’mores: graham cracker sandwich cookies stuffed with chocolate and marshmallow fluff.
  • Toast-Yay: icing-dipped, French toast flavored cookies
  • Toffee-tastics: a gluten-free buttery toffee cookie
Samoas and Thin Mints on a tray. brianpdx/Flickr

What’s the best Girl Scout cookie flavor?

While many will argue that the top Girl Scout cookie is the cool, chocolatey Thin Mint, the crispy, creamy, sweet and just-a-little-bit-salty peanut butter and chocolate Tagalongs may actually be the queen of all cookies, Girl Scout or otherwise. The caramel and coconut Samoas also have hordes of devoted fans. Those are easily the top three flavors, and after that there’s a sharp drop-off: Trefoils are boring old shortbread; Savannah Smiles are lemon and really, who gets excited about lemon cookies? The peanut butter sandwiches known as Do-Si-Dos are weirdly dry and crumbly and a little bit bland; and many of the others aren’t even worth mentioning. Stick with the top three and you won’t go wrong. (Pro tip: Thin Mints and Tagalongs are fantastic straight from the freezer.)

Where does all the cookie money go?

How exactly funds are distributed between local Girl Scouts and the national organization is a bit complicated. According to the Scouts, the “net proceeds” from each year’s cookie sales are directed to local council, which distributes the money among the troops it oversees to fund activities and “impactful girl-led community projects.”

Occasionally, politically motivated posts will go viral online, claiming that the Girl Scouts have donated money from cookie sales (or money in general) to organizations like Planned Parenthood. The Girl Scouts have made clear that they have no connection with the organization, and that all proceeds from cookie sales — after the bakers are paid — stay within the regional council that oversees the annual cookie bonanza.

How can I get Girl Scout Cookies out of season?

You can’t, unless maybe you find some scalper on Craigslist who keeps stock in their freezer year-round. If you’re really jonesing for a GSC fix, knockoffs can be found in the cookie aisle from both Keebler’s and Walmart’s Great Value brand that approximate Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs — but they’re not as tasty as the real thing, and perhaps more importantly, they lack the charitable aspect that comes along with buying direct from the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scouts have collaborated with a number of food companies on GSC-inspired products, however, including Breyers ice cream, a cereal collab with General Mills, Coffeemate coffee creamer, even a Dairy Queen Blizzard. There is even Thin Mints flavored whey protein powder at GNC. (There’s also a strain of marijuana called Girl Scout Cookies, but that’s a decidedly unauthorized use of the GSC name.)

Like many wonderful things in life, Girl Scout Cookies are fleeting — and really, waiting 10 months for them to come back in season makes them taste even better.