Taking Girl Scout Cookies back to their origins

Deanna Simmons gathered her daughters and two granddaughters to bake from a 1922 recipe for Girl Scout Cookies. Pictured (from left) are Deanna Simmons, Bryn Hammock, Kelley Simmons Hammock, Aubree White and Kathryn Simmons White. Courtesy of Kathryn White

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Deanna Simmons gathered her daughters and two granddaughters to bake from a 1922 recipe for Girl Scout Cookies. Pictured (from left) are Deanna Simmons, Bryn Hammock, Kelley Simmons Hammock, Aubree White and Kathryn Simmons White. Courtesy of Kathryn White

There are those who swear they get through the winter only because it brings the arrival of Girl Scout Cookies.

Was it just last year that glossy boxes of Tagalongs and Thin Mints beckoned from tables outside grocery stores, and you were tempted to order from the lists your colleagues circulated at the office? How are Girl Scout Cookie fans getting their fill now that COVID-19 has changed the way we live? Should we celebrate Girl Scout Sunday today by baking our own?

In Woodstock, Michele Samuel and her daughters, Leigha, 11, and Lundyn, 10, baked a 1922 recipe for the equivalent of the Trefoil, the classic shortbread cookie that’s been around since 1917. They chatted about the experience via Zoom after they finished.

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Leigha Samuel mixes a batch of Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Leigha Samuel mixes a batch of Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Combined ShapeCaption
Leigha Samuel mixes a batch of Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

They had gathered at their kitchen island to measure, stir, roll and decorate 24 cookies. Although Leigha declared the cookies tasted just like Trefoils, their cookies ended up shaped into hearts and circles, and decorated with frosting and sprinkles, reflecting a contemporary preference for bling.

Samuel, who leads the girls’ troop, was a Brownie and Girl Scout herself, and remembers the experience as enriching, and offering a way to give back to the community.

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Deanna Simmons and her granddaughters used a Trefoil cookie cutter for their cookies. Courtesy of Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

Deanna Simmons and her granddaughters used a Trefoil cookie cutter for their cookies. Courtesy of Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

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Deanna Simmons and her granddaughters used a Trefoil cookie cutter for their cookies. Courtesy of Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

Their troop has remained active throughout the pandemic, meeting regularly and conducting monthly community service. For example, they delivered Valentine cards to essential workers and the children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.

Lundyn is the troop’s COVID-19 captain, sanitizing the room before every meeting, handing out hand sanitizer and masks, taking everyone’s temperature and reporting about the spread of the pandemic in their community.

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Lundyn Samuel proudly displays three of her finished Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Lundyn Samuel proudly displays three of her finished Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

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Lundyn Samuel proudly displays three of her finished Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

When it came time to sell cookies this year, the troop dreamed up a drive-through cookie booth. They designed a banner that includes photos of the cookies, along with the prices. The booth has two windows that they use to hand over purchases safely.

The transactions are cashless, with payment via Venmo or Cash App. Girls staffing the booth wear masks and gloves. Two girls work in the booth while two others hold signs by the side of the road to entice people to drive through. It’s not unusual to have a line of cars waiting.

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Lundyn Samuel has her mask on and is getting ready to don gloves, so she will be ready to work at the cookie booth. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Lundyn Samuel has her mask on and is getting ready to don gloves, so she will be ready to work at the cookie booth. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

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Lundyn Samuel has her mask on and is getting ready to don gloves, so she will be ready to work at the cookie booth. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

The girls also reached out to neighbors through the Nextdoor app, and include a flyer in every bag they send out from the booth. One customer called them after she saw the flyer, and ordered 60 boxes of cookies.

The troop expects to sell about 3,000 boxes of cookies this year. All proceeds from sales by Atlanta area troops stay in the area, with a portion coming back to the troop to support community efforts and activities.

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Lundyn Samuel (in the foreground) and Gabbi Groce (upper right) hold signs to lure shoppers to their troop’s drive-through cookie booth. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Lundyn Samuel (in the foreground) and Gabbi Groce (upper right) hold signs to lure shoppers to their troop’s drive-through cookie booth. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

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Lundyn Samuel (in the foreground) and Gabbi Groce (upper right) hold signs to lure shoppers to their troop’s drive-through cookie booth. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Credit: Michele Samuel

Will they have a drive-through cookie booth next year? The girls said, “Yes.”

“People ask when are we going to get back to normal, but I think this just may be part of the new normal,” their mom added. “It just makes sense, and it’s safer for both the community and our girls.”

Over in Lawrenceville, Deanna Simmons gathered two of her granddaughters, Bryn Hammock, 17, an Ambassador Girl Scout, and Aubree White, 11, a junior Girl Scout, to bake that 1922 Trefoil recipe. “The cousins hadn’t seen each other since November, so we had a good time. Even though it was a mess, the end result was delicious,” Simmons said, shaking her head and laughing during a Facetime interview.

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Aubree White (left) and Bryn Hammock (right) join their grandmother, Deanna Simmons, to make cookies from a 1922 Girl Scout recipe. Courtesy of Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

Aubree White (left) and Bryn Hammock (right) join their grandmother, Deanna Simmons, to make cookies from a 1922 Girl Scout recipe. Courtesy of Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

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Aubree White (left) and Bryn Hammock (right) join their grandmother, Deanna Simmons, to make cookies from a 1922 Girl Scout recipe. Courtesy of Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

Credit: Kathryn White

Simmons has been a part of Girl Scouts for 54 years. Her mom was one of her troop’s leaders, and Simmons remembers traveling to dads’ office buildings in downtown Atlanta to sell cookies. “They set us by the elevators, and we sold to everybody who came off. Cookies were 45 cents a box.”

Simmons’ daughters are troop leaders, and have been holding a mix of virtual and socially distanced meetings. “Aubree had a digital cookie site, where people could order to have cookies shipped, or to have a Scout deliver them,” she said.

Aubree also sent emails in the neighborhood, and to friends and family. Customers also could buy cookies to send to the military, and that went really well. She sold nearly 500 boxes.

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Leigha (from left), Lundyn and Michele Samuel bake their own version of the 1922 recipe for Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Handout

Leigha (from left), Lundyn and Michele Samuel bake their own version of the 1922 recipe for Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Handout

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Leigha (from left), Lundyn and Michele Samuel bake their own version of the 1922 recipe for Girl Scout Cookies. Courtesy of Michele Samuel

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Despite the pandemic, Simmons is so well-known in the area that, this time of the year, she finds herself being stopped by friends and acquaintances, hoping she’s got a box of cookies for them. “Everywhere I go, people are begging for cookies.”

If you’re still looking for Girl Scout Cookies, and don’t want to bake your own, go to showmethecookies.com and put in your zip code, to be directed to find a cookie booth sale near you, or to have cookies shipped to you.

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Deanna Simmons remembers her Brownie troop selling cookies in downtown Atlanta in the 1950s. Courtesy of Deanna Simmons

Credit: Handout

Deanna Simmons remembers her Brownie troop selling cookies in downtown Atlanta in the 1950s. Courtesy of Deanna Simmons

Credit: Handout

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Deanna Simmons remembers her Brownie troop selling cookies in downtown Atlanta in the 1950s. Courtesy of Deanna Simmons

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Girl Scout Cookies

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of milk, but, after hearing the experiences of the Simmons and Samuel families, I decided to skip adding the milk. I added a pinch of salt, and also decided, given that this is a sticky dough, to turn this into a refrigerator cookie. The original directions called for the cookies to be rolled and cut out.

Girl Scout Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for 30 seconds. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture a third at a time, beating for 10 seconds between additions. Remove the dough from the mixer and divide in half. Tear off two 12-inch squares of waxed paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Roll each dough half into a cylinder and wrap in the prepared paper. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray two cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.
  • Remove the dough rolls from the refrigerator. Slice each roll into ¼-inch slices, and arrange the slices on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or just until the edges begin to brown. Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Makes: four dozen cookies

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per cookie: 72 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 1 gram protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 4 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 18 milligrams cholesterol, 21 milligrams sodium

What are the best-selling Girl Scout Cookies of all time?

5. Trefoils ® /Shortbread ®

ajc.com

4. Do-si-dos®/Peanut Butter Sandwich ®

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DO-SI-DOS -- Crisp and crunchy oatmeal cookies with creamy peanut butter filling. No artificial color or flavor.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

DO-SI-DOS -- Crisp and crunchy oatmeal cookies with creamy peanut butter filling. No artificial color or flavor.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

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DO-SI-DOS -- Crisp and crunchy oatmeal cookies with creamy peanut butter filling. No artificial color or flavor.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

3. Peanut Butter Patties®/Tagalongs®

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TAGALONGS -- Tasty cookies topped with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolaty coating.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

TAGALONGS -- Tasty cookies topped with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolaty coating.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

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TAGALONGS -- Tasty cookies topped with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolaty coating.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

2. Caramel deLites®/Samoas®

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SAMOAS - Tender vanilla cookies, covered with caramel, rolled in toasted coconut, and striped with a rich, chocolaty coating.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

SAMOAS - Tender vanilla cookies, covered with caramel, rolled in toasted coconut, and striped with a rich, chocolaty coating.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Combined ShapeCaption
SAMOAS - Tender vanilla cookies, covered with caramel, rolled in toasted coconut, and striped with a rich, chocolaty coating.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

1. Thin Mints®

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THIN MINTS -- A thin wafer covered with a smooth chocolaty coating. Made with natural peppermint.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

THIN MINTS -- A thin wafer covered with a smooth chocolaty coating. Made with natural peppermint.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

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THIN MINTS -- A thin wafer covered with a smooth chocolaty coating. Made with natural peppermint.

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

Credit: Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta

--Information from girlscouts.org

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