Big Food continues to dupe Girl Scouts (and consumers) with some really unhealthy cookies

Posted by
March 25, 2014


It’s a rite of spring as sure as hearing the birds singing in the morning – those cute Daisies and Brownies pitching The Cookies at us in front of our neighborhood supermarket and other stores.

Who can resist? It’s almost un-American to turn them down. After all, this yearly event started almost 100 years ago.

And most people don’t turn them down. In fact, they seem to buy them by the carload and then come back for more. They seem to just assume these are healthy cookies because cute little Girl Scouts are selling them.

Now I have nothing at all against Girl Scouts (even though not becoming a Brownie still remains one of the big traumas of my childhood). So I was taken aback when one of the moms bristled when I started reading the ingredients on one of the boxes.

“Can I help you with something,” she asked.

I told her I was surprised to see partially hydrogenated oils in the super-popular Thin Mints. And that it was especially a shock since back in November even the FDA (finally) proposed a ban on this artery-clogging ingredient that everyone acknowledges kills thousands each year.

“The girls don’t have to hear this,” she said, adding “they probably eat more vegetables than you do.”

I wanted to say “well, yes, Ma’am, I think they do need to hear this.” But instead, I purchased a box of Thin Mints and left, not wanting to be accused of causing any of those cute little Brownies to start crying.

And that’s brings up the real problem here. How can you trust an industry that continues to dupe this sugar-and spice-institution with unhealthy, artery-clogging additives (even while it uses a labeling loophole to pretend they contain “zero trans fats”)?

How bad are the ingredients in some of these Girl Scout cookies? Take a look:

  • Samoas: partially hydrogenated oils, carrageenan and artificial flavors;
  • Caramel deLites: partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors and “corn sugar.” (What, exactly, is corn sugar? We’re not sure and the Girl Scouts aren’t returning calls. Is it dextrose, a corn-derived ingredient that contains no fructose? Or is it still more HFCS, which the Corn Refiners Association unsuccessfully attempted to rebrand as corn sugar several years ago.)
  • Dulce de Leche: Yellow Lake # 5 and 6 and Blue 2 Lake, as well as some artificial flavors;
  • Lemonades: partially hydrogenated oil, corn syrup and artificial flavors.

But this is much more than just another processed food with less than stellar ingredients. After all, you’re surrounded by such products every time you step foot inside a supermarket.

No, this is also about, what the Girl Scouts call the “5 skills,” things each one of these adorable girls learn every time you buy a box. Here are some of the good deeds the Scout site says will take place when you buy the cookies:

For Lemonades — “With each box of tangy lemon-icing-topped shortbread cookies you buy, you’re helping a girl learn about goal setting. She learns how to organize her cookie sale, build a goal, and work hard – skills that help her accomplish all she’ll set out to do in life.”

For the Caramel deLites — a girl leans about “…the importance of keeping her word, doing the right thing, and being fair. A girl learns the business ethics that will serve her throughout life.”

So are selling cookies with ingredients reported to cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other ills “doing the right thing?” Maybe the catch here is that when you partner with Big Food in a venture, there really are no “business ethics.”

And if you’re curious about what those original Girl Scout cookies were made from back around 1922, it was butter, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, salt and baking powder.

Now those were cookies that could help anyone “do the right thing.” And in 2014, you can still make cookies from those very same ingredients.