Girl Scout Cookies are an American staple as classic as apple pie or fights at Thanksgiving dinner. The familiar sight of young uniformed girls selling their delicious wares outside of grocery stores and near schools is a nostalgic part of the cultural landscape for many.

But now some little-known facts about the popular sweets are being exposed, and not all of them shed such a positive light on the program. These revelations are completely changing the way people think about Girl Scout Cookies, and in some cases, buyers are reconsidering purchasing them at all.

Girl Scouts originally began as a homegrown program in 1912, with Juliette Gordon Lowein in Georgia. She wanted girls to be able to leave their houses and learn about the world. But the first troop didn’t look anything like what we know today.

Flickr – Jason Liebig

The original troop only contained 18 girls, and they had no idea the grand scale the organization would one day take. Currently, there are an astounding 2.5 million Girl Scouts in the United States.

Harris & Ewing Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

However, their famous cookies didn’t come along until a little later; the first troop to whip up the yummy confections sold them in bake sales out of their Oklahoma school cafeterias, but they hadn’t yet reached their iconic status.

Schwartz Jampel Syndrome and Giovanni / Facebook

The trend really kicked off when in 1922 Girl Scout director Florence E.Neil penned a recipe for the group’s national magazine, The American Girl. She promised a recipe that would yield an impressive seven dozen cookies and cost a mere 30 cents.

So, originally, the Scouts themselves baked all their own goods. By 1936, however, demand had grown so great that they had to begun outsourcing. Soon after this, they’d experience a major hiccup…

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A

When WWII hit the nation and the world, resources were at an all-time low as every citizen contributed towards the war effort. This meant crucial supplies needed for cookies were strictly rationed. For the time being, the girls had to direct their efforts elsewhere.

The Fashion Globe/Wiki Commons and the National Archive

The girls took up other endeavors, such as selling calendars and war bonds or collecting scrap metal and cooking fat. Being unable to sell their prized cookies wasn’t going to stop them from championing a good cause.

Girl Scouts of America

However, this momentary lull was followed by an astounding peak. By 1946, the cookies were back in business, and two years later, the program had its maximum amount of bakeries ever used: twenty-nine.

Girl Scouts of America

After this, while demand remained incredibly high, the actual amount of bakeries began to drop. By the 1960s, there were four remaining, and by 1978, there were only four institutions in the entire country left baking the goods.

Today, there are only two separate bakeries making the confections: ABC Bakers in Richmond, Virginia, and Little Brownie Bakers in Louisville, Kentucky. Both have been around for decades, however, a few discrepancies have led to a somewhat concerning problem…

Girl Scouts of Colorado Blog

Not all cookies are made alike, leading to stark differences between the two distributors! This means that unlike nationwide chains such as McDonalds or Wendy’s, you can’t necessarily expect consistency across different boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

Girl Scouts of America

Cookies sold by the brands vary in taste, appearance, and often name. Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, and Shortbreads are the three so-called “mandatory flavors” that need to be produced each year, but even these vary significantly between each distributor.

Instagram – Girl Scouts

This means that, depending on what region of the United States you’re in, you could be receiving a completely different tasting cookie. Discrepancies can even be found within the same state — it all relies on which bakery your local troop chooses.

Fort Worth Mom’s Blog

For example, ABC’s Thin Mints are quite crunchy, and lean towards being more chocolatey in terms of flavor profile, while Little Brownie’s rendition contain more chocolate but also includes unique peppermint undertones.

However, fluctuations in product taste and consistency are far from the only controversies plaguing the Girl Scouts. Some of them even have roots that echo back to the program’s founding over a hundred years ago.

American-Statesman

For years, young troops of Girl Scouts loved to go back to where it all started in order to sell their signature snacks — they would sell goods outside of the home of the original founder, which is now a Historic National Landmark. Some didn’t like this…

Wikimedia Commons

Certain locals labeled the activities “public peddling,” a technically illegal activity. Although there was much dispute among local leaders, ultimately the Scouts were forced to cease their vending…

American-Statesman

However, ultimately, after the story made national news, adjusted legislation came out that reinstated the girls’ right to sell their goods at the location, with one stipulation: they couldn’t block the sidewalk.

Money – Courtesy of Dierdre Moore

Another buzz surrounding the program stemmed from a concern for the girls themselves, and about how much they were actually benefiting from all the hard work they put into pushing their well-meaning goods.

Wikimedia Commons

The Scouts’ website claims that all proceeds from the popular cookies go straight to purposes that support the “troops,” however this isn’t exactly the case. In 2014, CBS Minnesota did a breakdown of where sales from each individual box go.

Their results showed that 27% of proceeds from each box went to production costs, 19% to the scouts’ volunteer program, 15% to Girl Scouts camps, 12% to leadership programs, and 6% to local administrations. This leaves a less-than-impressive 21% going straight to the local troop.

Courtney Herrick

Even more concerning than the breakdown of where Girl Scout money actually goes, is the controversy surrounding one of the main ingredients involved in crafting the delicious sweets.

Chocolate Covered Katie

Palm oil is a versatile oil that is found in many recipes and, indeed, utilized by many major food corporations in their goods. Although relatively widespread, this ingredient poses a major problem for one tragic reason.

Palm oil is so harmful because it has contributed to the destruction of rain forests in Southeast Asia, where plentiful chunks of the diverse habitats are cut down in order to create spaces for cultivating palm oil.

Mashed

On a national level, Girl Scouts have refused to stop using the ingredient, saying that, for the time being, it enhances the quality of their cookies too much to be removed. Leadership has responded to questions with careful sidesteps and evasion.

Flickr – US Department of State

However, this has not stopped the fearless Scouts themselves from fighting back against the harmful practice employed by their overheads. They have engaged in protests and boycotts across the country and are trying to make their voices heard.

Luke Airforce Base – Airman 1st Class Leala Marquez

While the Girl Scouts have had their fair share of controversy, they’re not the only group with their backs to the wall. Leadership at the Boy Scouts of America recently came under fire for their handling of their brightest pupil…

Boy Scouts of America / LinkedIn

Being a Boy Scout meant the world to 15-year-old Logan Blythe. Over the course of his Scouting career, he had achieved the level of Tiger Cub, Wolf, Bear, and Webelo. These were all accomplishments any member would be proud to attain.

Logan’s parents, Chad and Diane, never missed an opportunity to tell their son how proud they were. After all, Logan had Down Syndrome, which made everyday tasks difficult.

Even so, Logan had been involved with the Boy Scouts for four years, and he loved every day he was active. He entered the Scouts as a way to make new friends when his family moved from their hometown in Illinois to Utah.

One of the reasons why Chad and Diane supported Logan’s decision to join the Boy Scouts was because the organization was super inclusive, and they were willing to work with Logan despite his disability. Not every group would lend that hand.

In fact, Chad, Diane, and Logan were involved in Utah’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which provided them with a feeling of belonging, but made it impossible for Logan to achieve many of the church’s rites of passage.

But from the day he took the Scout’s oath, Logan had his eyes set on moving up ranks as high as he could, proving to everyone he could earn any badge. And he was certainly on track to do so.

But best of all, the positive interactions the Scouts offered Logan, according to his parents, improved his speech and dexterity by “leaps and bounds.” That was the best badge of all.

Over the course of Logan’s involvement, he earned merit badges for accomplishments such as tying knots, starting fires, and learning to set up a campsite. With all his accolades proudly shown on his sash, he only had one more level to attain: the almighty Eagle Scout.

Eagle Scouts represented the very best of the Boy Scouts. It was a long and arduous journey to get there, and only about six percent of Scouts ever make it. Nevertheless, Logan was on track to achieve it. Or so he thought…

Because Logan had Down Syndrome, some of the merit badge requirements had been slightly altered to help him. Scoutmasters had assured Chad and Diane the alterations were fine, but when Logan submitted his Eagle Scout project to the Utah National Parks Council, problems arose.

Logan was crushed to learn the council voided every single one of his merit badges due to the modifications the scoutmasters put on them. This meant Logan would never join the ranks of Eagle Scout. The Blythes, however, weren’t going to let this slide.

Understandably, Logan’s parents were furious with the Boy Scouts. They knew Logan’s badge requirements were slightly modified, but numerous scoutmasters assured them it wouldn’t affect his progress. Clearly, they’d been misinformed.

As the Blythes saw it, the organization had done such a great job altering its policies to allow for LGBTQ members to join, so this sudden disapproval of Logan was in direct contrast to the Scout’s mission.

So what recourse did the Blythes take? They filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America Foundation, the National Boy Scouts of America Board, the Utah National Parks Council, and the members who made the decision to reclaim all of Logan’s badges.

What made the Blythes’ lawsuit unique was they weren’t seeking any kind of hefty financial gain — the lawsuit literally asked for one dollar. More than money, the family wanted to bring attention to a situation they felt played out unfairly.

The lawsuit made headlines. It was eventually dropped, however, after the family’s attorneys met with the Boy Scout council, and they agreed to honor Logan’s merit badges. But Logan’s opinions had changed.

The whole situation was a huge headache, and it left a sour taste in Logan’s mouth. Even though the organization agreed to honor his badges, Logan had no desire to put on the uniform anymore. He’d already set his sights on a new goal.

The Special Olympics! As he’d done with the Scouts, he succeeded with the Olympics, bringing home a silver medal for basketball. He found a wonderful camaraderie with the athletes, and no one would strip away his hard-earned medals.

The situation with the Boy Scouts was a tough blow for Logan, but he found new comfort with the Special Olympics. Logan never let his disability prevent him from persevering, much like another amazing young man…

John Cronin was finishing his studies in retail and customer service at Huntington High School and Wilson Tech when he was faced with the daunting decision.

What was he going to do after graduation? John was unenthusiastic about traditional job options, so he turned to his dad to discuss a different idea…

“I want to go into business with you,” John explained to his father. Mark was an entrepreneur, and when he heard his son wanted to follow in his footsteps he was eager to support John’s dream.

John’s Crazy Socks

The next challenge they faced was deciding what business they were going to open. John suggested opening a “fun and creative” store. Mark challenged John to think about what was fun and creative to him, and he came up with something breathtaking…

Inspired by the movie Chef, John thought about opening a food truck. But there was one pretty big problem with that idea… As John jokingly pointed out, “We can’t cook.”

Mark was starting to think their business would never come to be when John suddenly had a brilliant idea. He told his dad that he wanted to sell crazy socks. He even had the name for the business and some website designs sketched out!

The Sock Drawer

John said, “I wore crazy socks my entire life. They are fun, colorful, and creative. They let me be me.” Mark added, “…that was his thing. We would drive around looking for them. It seemed as if John loved fun socks so much, others would too.”

John’s Crazy Socks

This is how their business John’s Crazy Socks was born. John and Mark worked hard to get vendors, set up bank accounts, and file for licenses with the State of New York.

John’s Crazy Socks

They even set up a Facebook page with a few videos of John talking about their socks which is where their catchphrase, “socks, socks, and more socks” was coined. They were just about ready to launch and find out if their hard work was going to pay off.

John’s Crazy Socks

But launch day didn’t go so smooth at first. At 10 a.m. their website crashed. It took them five hours to get the website up again. Finally, at 3 p.m they were ready to see if they could make some sales.

To their surprise orders came pouring in from members of their local community who heard about John’s business venture and saw his videos on Facebook. John and Mark were ecstatic and wanted to make these first orders special.

John’s Crazy Socks

In conjunction with their core values of spreading happiness, they decided to hand deliver their packages with some candy and a thank you note from John. They packed up their car and headed out to go door-to-door in their community.

John’s Crazy Socks

News about John’s Crazy Socks started to spread like wildfire! By the end of the first month, they drew in over $13,000 in revenue and sold over 452 pairs of socks!

John’s Crazy Socks

Business really started to pick up and by their 10,000th sale, John and Mark had made over $353,000 in revenue. Their socks were selling out quickly and they knew they needed to expand.

They bought a larger office and decided to hire help. With John having a disability, they were really adamant about giving work opportunities to others with disabilities.

John’s Crazy Socks

They also pledged 5% of their earnings to the Special Olympics, in which John is training to compete in for snowshoeing. Their mission is about so much more than socks – it’s about changing lives.

John’s Crazy Socks

John and Mark are extremely dedicated to this inspiring business. They invite schools and work groups to the office for tours, travel to conferences to speak, and advocate for law reform dealing with disabled workers in the workforce.

Johns Crazy Socks

In just one year, John’s Crazy Socks have sold over 42,000 orders and made $1.7 million in revenue. They offer 1,500 different sock designs and are always making more!

John’s Crazy Socks

Their business logo even earned a coveted spotlight appearance on the NASDAQ tower in Times Square, the heart of Manhattan. Proving that hard work and dedication really pays off!

John’s Crazy Socks

With the success of John’s Crazy Socks, John has been able to build a successful life doing something he completely loves. He said, “I have Down Syndrome [but] it never holds me back.”

John’s Crazy Socks