Winter is in the air, and the annual Girl Scout cookie program will begin on January 18 within Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council. The sale of cookies is identified with Girl Scouts, but have you ever wondered how this leadership and economic literacy program got started?
Girl Scout Cookie History
Girl Scout Cookies® had their earliest beginnings in the kitchens and ovens of Girl Scout members, with mothers volunteering as technical advisers. The sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities began as early as 1917, five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouting in the United States. The earliest mention of a cookie sale found to date was that of the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, which baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project in December 1917.
In July 1922, The American Girl magazine, published nationally by Girl Scouts, featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois. Neil provided a cookie recipe that was given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country continued to bake their own simple sugar cookies with their mothers. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.
In 1936, Girl Scouts of the USA began licensing cookie bakers. Since then, the selling of Girl Scout Cookies® has grown into a highly successful program that helps girls learn and practice important leadership skills while earning proceeds for their team and council activities.
Over the years, cookie varieties have come and gone in response to changing consumer tastes. However, the only modification to shortbread has been a “facelift” in 1979 when the cookie’s traditional Girl Scout service mark was replaced by a more contemporary service mark. The Thanks-A-Lot™ Girl Scout Cookies speak five different languages; a language key is printed on the over-wrap inside each box. Thin Mints is the top selling Girl Scout Cookie in America! Since the 1930s, a number of companies have baked Girl Scout Cookies.
This year, the new cookie is the Cinna-Spins, in 100-calorie packs, 5 packs to a box.
Today there are two Girl Scout Cookie suppliers. ABC Bakers, the supplier for Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council, has been one of these officially licensed Girl Scout Cookie baker for 70 years.
Each season, Girl Scouts sell almost 200 million packages of Girl Scout Cookies! All of the cookie varieties offered by Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council are cholesterol free and are “zero trans fat per serving” (in compliance with FDA regulation). All cookies are made with pure vegetable shortening. Homemade caramel, cooked to a rich creamy consistency, and a special toasted flaked coconut makes Caramel deLites® the second best selling Girl Scout Cookie and places it in the top five of cookies sold in the United States, annually.
Girls are the ultimate beneficiaries of all Girl Scout cookie activities — either directly or indirectly. Girls benefit directly by learning valuable life skills, earning money for their troop/group treasuries, and planning how to spend that money to achieve their troop/group goals. To support this learning, Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council assumes all of the administrative costs that are part of this Council-sponsored activity.
Girls also benefit indirectly by participating in a wide range of Council-wide activities which are made possible in part by the proceeds from the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program. Those proceeds benefit all of the girls in our Council by providing essential services to our membership, such as financial assistance, program resources, training for adult volunteers, and support for special events.
After the licensed baker is paid, all of the cookie proceeds stay in the community of the girl from whom the purchase was made. A portion of that money goes directly to her Girl Scout troop. The remainder is used to help make Girl Scouting available to every girl in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Steuben and Wells counties. Girls benefit not only by participating in Council-sponsored activities, but also by deciding what to do with the money they earned for their troop projects. We don’t know of any other youth-oriented activity where the girls themselves decide what to do with the money they earn.
Impact of Girl Scouting
The impact of Girl Scouts on the girls is what is most important. Much has been written about how communities and adults can help young people grow up healthy, caring and responsible. The respected independent Search Institute identified 40 development assets that young people need. Based on extensive research on adolescents, the assets are strong building blocks that encourage healthy youth development.
The list begins with family support and ends with a positive view of their personal future. In between, it suggests, for example, that a young person receive support from three or more nonparent adults, serve the community, and build skills to be able to resist peer pressure. Girl Scouting helps build those assets and so many more. It offers girls of all ages a world of adventure, leadership and girls-only activities, and the experiences are merged with the positive relationships Girl Scouts build with caring adult mentors.
Limberlost Council History
Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council’s history dates back to 1918 in Bloomingdale, a section of northwest Fort Wayne. In 1926, the Fort Wayne and Allen County Council received its charter from the National Girl Scout organization. Beulah Starkel had the privilege of being the first captain of Troop #1. In 1944, Mrs. Lawrence Linn became President of the newly formed Decatur Council. The Huntington County Council was chartered in 1952 with Mrs. H.S. Brubaker as the first President. Steuben, DeKalb and Wells counties had what were known as “lone” troops or associations.
Late in the 1950s, work began to consolidate all the Girl Scouts in northeastern Indiana under the jurisdiction of one Girl Scout council. The newly formed Limberlost Girl Scout Council was made up of six counties. It received its charter on January 1, 1958; there were 329 troops with a membership of 6,120 girls and adults. Five professional and three clerical staff served the Council. Mrs. Wayne Miller was the first president and Mildred Jacobs served as the Executive Director.
Elizabeth Hersh, an Adams County Girl Scout volunteer, submitted the Council name “Limberlost.” She hoped that the legend of the Limberlost would be passed on to many generations of Girl Scouts.
The name’s history is intriguing. Many years ago, a great swamp stretched for miles and miles in southern Adams County near Geneva. The swamp was called the Great Limberlost Swamp because of a local surveyor who wandered into the swamp and became lost. His name was Jim, and his suppleness gained him the name “Limber Jim.” When he disappeared, settlers in Geneva began saying “Limber’s lost,” until finally the expression was shortened to “Limberlost.”
Years later, Gene Stratton Porter, Indiana’s most widely read female author, made her home near the Great Limberlost Swamp. Porter and her husband named their home the Limberlost Cabin. Built in 1894, the home remains a memorial to Porter. Porter wrote five novels while living at the Limberlost Cabin. Her most famous novel, The Girl of the Limberlost, was published in 1909. As she penned this famous novel, it would not have occurred to her that 50 years later thousands of Girl Scouts would band together under the name Limberlost. No doubt she would have been pleased because Girl Scouts, like Porter, have always been lovers of nature and the out-of-doors.
In 1998, the Council voted to change its name to Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council to put “Girl Scouts” first. Today, Girl Scouts of Limberlost Council administers programs in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Steuben and Wells counties in northeast Indiana, serving more than 8,100 girls of all ages with the support of more than 2,200 adult volunteers.
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