This year marks the 100th anniversary of the most glorious season of all: Girl Scout Cookie season. If you want a (literal!) taste of Girl Scout history, try out the original Girl Scout cookie recipe from 1922. Although it’s a lot simpler than the Girl Scout cookies you already know and crave, the recipe is a sweet reminder that the Girl Scouts have been seeking to empower girls for a long, long time.
The first Girl Scout cookie sale happened in 1917, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies at home and sold them in a high school cafeteria. According to The Washington Post, the money they raised went to paying for gifts to sendto soldiers fighting in World War I. Although other troops followed suit, cookie sales really got a boost in 1922, when Florence E. Neil, a Girl Scout director in Chicago, Illinois, published the Girl Scouts’ first official cookie recipe in The American Girl magazine. In addition to the recipe, Neil included sales tips and a business plan for young entrepreneurs.
Neil’s recipe for a simple sugar cookie has a lot fewer bells and whistles than today’s Girl Scout cookie favorites, many of which feature ingredients like peanut butter, coconut, and marshmallow. But I actually love a good sugar cookie, and I doubt I’m the only one. Considering that this first Girl Scout cookie launched a fundraising initiative that now raises $800 million a year, it’s probably a pretty solid recipe:
1 cup of butter, or substitute
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
Cream butter and sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, flavoring, flour, and baking powder. Roll thin and bake in quick oven. (Sprinkle sugar on top.)
This amount makes six to seven dozen.
Modern-day tips (not part of the original recipe): Refrigerate batter for at least one hour before rolling and cutting cookies. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
In her 1922 article, Florence E. Neil noted that one batch would, at the time, cost somewhere between 26 and 36 cents to produce and yield six or seven dozen cookies. She advised scouts to sell them for 25 to 30 cents per dozen — meaning that a batch of cookies that cost 26 cents to make could sell for between $1.50 and $2.10. That’s a pretty tidy profit!
The Girl Scouts began switching over to the sale of commercially-produced cookies in the mid-1930s, and the rest is cookie history. Now, Girl Scout cookie sales raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year to support Girl Scout activities and outreach projects.