In the late 1990s, my wife and I enrolled our daughter in an East Meadow Girl Scout troop. There was an abundance of Girl Scouts in our small condominium community, so when cookie-selling time began each January, the moms avoided turf wars by equally dividing the homes each girl could visit. Outside the community, it was every girl for herself.
Amanda, then just 5, took cookie-selling seriously. She rehearsed her sales pitch, put on her best smile, wore her blue apron over her winter coat and went door to door with her order form while my wife or I tagged along. She knew the names of the cookies — Do-si-dos, Samoas, Tagalongs and more — the differences among the flavors and which were the best-sellers, usually Thin Mints and Trefoils.
As some of the girls in our community aged out or left scouting, my daughter’s sales increased. Neighbors often approached Amanda to buy cookies. I didn’t work in a large office, so while other parents would take order forms to work, I couldn’t. Of course, that also meant I didn’t eventually have to schlep the boxes on the train to the city.
Delivery was as important as sales. In February, with her brother and my wife and I forming an assembly line in the living room, orders were put into plastic bags along with thank-you notes.
My daughter also loved being among girls who promoted scouting by handing out free boxes to jurors at the courthouse in Mineola. She also sold them with other scouts at places like the Roosevelt Field mall (but she drew the line at dressing as a Thin Mint or Do-si-do). My wife and I spied the activity from a second-floor balcony, ducking behind a pole if Amanda looked up to see if we were watching.
Through Amanda’s cookie sales and her work to earn merit badges, I saw how Girl Scouts helped her for her future as a teacher. She learned leadership, entrepreneurial and public speaking skills. She gained confidence and the feeling of accomplishment. She also learned about charity. Through a project called Operation Cookie, Girl Scouts of Nassau County encourages people to buy boxes for our troops overseas.
Now that Amanda is no longer a scout, we have a new girl in our condominium community who sells cookies each January. Wearing her vest over her winter coat, and a smile, she presents her order form, knowing my family is ready for our cookie fix. Although Amanda, now in her 20s, went through every stage of Girl Scouts from Daisy to Ambassador, she still enjoys cookie season. She checks the Girl Scouts website and helps us prepare our order weeks in advance. We freeze our Thin Mints and have our own favorites. Mine is Savannah Smiles.
Nowadays, the Girl Scouts have gone even more mainstream. They have licensed their flavors to makers of ice cream and candy bars. For me, nothing beats a genuine Girl Scout cookie sold by the youngest door-to-door saleswoman.
Reader Howard Lev lives in East Meadow.