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After a pandemic slump, Girl Scouts hope to sweeten cookie sales with a new flavor — Adventurefuls

‘Moving at the speed of girls,’ innovations aren’t just coming from the oven

SHARE After a pandemic slump, Girl Scouts hope to sweeten cookie sales with a new flavor — Adventurefuls
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Steve Weller listens to Annie and Juliet Agy talk about the different cookies as their mother Kalie Agy watches as they go door to door selling Girl Scout Cookies in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

America’s favorite door-to-door sales team is back.

The Girl Scouts of Utah have kicked off the cookie season, and in an apparent effort to ensure the debate over the best Girl Scout cookie remains eternally unsettled, the troops this year are introducing the new Adventurefuls cookie, a brownie inspired enjoyment equal parts crumble and crisp, whose sea-salt caramel finish aims to invoke excitement.

“We like say there’s an incredible taste of adventure with them. It’s definitely a different take for our cookies, but people really like them,” said Callie Birdsall, chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of Utah.

Adventurefuls arrive in a rebound season for the all-girl institution which believes a new item will help rebuild sales after pandemic-related booth closures and shortened retail opportunities caused profits to slip. Yet even as the pandemic chipped away at profits, it has also highlighted the institution’s resilience, which, after more than 100 years in the cookie game, still hasn’t lost its leavening. And today’s Girl Scouts of Utah, 102 this year, show that innovations aren’t just coming from the oven.

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Kalie Agy and her daughters Juliet and Annie go door to door selling Girl Scout Cookies in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

‘Speed of girls’

In some ways, Girl Scout troops approach the cookie season as they always have, rapping doors and putting a face to the brand on stoops throughout the community. But long gone are the days of Red Wagon inventories and paper order forms blowing loose in the wind. Even as they retain their bread-and-butter tactics of in-person sales, Girl Scouts are additionally tapping into the social media expertise that’s the unofficial identifier of Gen Z, emblematic of their larger evolution and endless adaptability.

“The last few years our girls pivoted and said, OK, I’m going to promote my digital cookie website. They’ve focused on their personal websites and marketing themselves online. They post videos on what their goals are about, and they reach customers that way,” Birdsall said.

“We say we ‘move at the speed of girls,’ which is really fast. So we stay relevant.”

Though the Girl Scouts continue to promote outdoor engagement and traditional talents, like knots-to-know and archery, in recent years they’ve added a spate of new aptitudes to their quiver — including badges for cybersecurity, computer coding, moviemaking basics and entertainment technology. The prolific menu requires a working knowledge of Excel to track. But don’t worry, there’s a badge for that.

“We have a saying that whatever it might be, ‘There’s a badge for that,’” joked Birdsall, who explained the cookie season exemplifies the real-world pertinence of badge skills.

Currently there are over 300 Girl Scout badges, including the 13 new entrepreneurship badges added this year. Badges related to e-commerce like email marketing and influencing help the troops learn things that are not only relevant in the Girl Scout world, Birdsall said, but are relevant to what the whole world is doing.

Do you know a Girl Scout?

Girl Scouts make sales by sharing links with clients who place orders through a purchasing app. Cookies are then delivered personally by the scouts, or shipped in the mail. Troops can also send links to family and friends out of state. But the link is key. Cookies will be made available for general sale through the Girl Scout website around March, but to get your cookie fix during the exclusive first eight weeks of cookie season, you must go through a Scout.

“I hear a lot of people say they want cookies but don’t know a Girl Scout. Well, chances are you probably do. They just need to reach out and post on social and say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for cookies, does anybody know a Girl Scout?’”

Beginning March 11, Girl Scouts of Utah will operate booths at different local businesses around the state, and those looking for the new Adventurefuls cookies can find vendors in the cookie finder function at GSUtah.org.

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Kalie Agy shows a flyer she had printed to help people make their selections as she and her daughters Juliet and Annie go door to door selling Girl Scout Cookies in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

More than cookies

Girls Scout Cookies have built a devout clientele and many influential supporters, including Ellen DeGeneres, who just can’t say no to a Scout, or Leonardo DiCaprio, who is known to indulge on crumbly Trefoils during award shows. But support for the Girl Scouts is founded on something deeper than appetites, the group’s leaders say, and cookie sales are meant to fuel the tank of a bigger movement for community, growth and female empowerment.

“We give them the tools and skills to empower themselves and we do it with programs for girls of all backgrounds and abilities. We want them to discover their strengths, learn how to rise to challenges. Some of the girls are advocates for climate justice or other causes, some are just here to make friends,” said Birdsall, who describes the Girl Scouts as a refuge for girls who are new to a neighborhood.

“Girl Scouts is a place where girls can unapologetically be themselves. It’s a place where girls can meet a group of friends where they feel they belong.”

Cookie profits are returned to the local troops who reinvest proceeds in “high adventure experiences,” including Utah scout camps like Trefoil Ranch and Camp Cloud Rim, where girls learn equestrian skills and engage in learning experiences while forging friendships and memories, Birdsall explained.

The empowerment ethos doesn’t stop with women; rather, troops use cookie profits to fund service and sustainable community improvement projects. For example, Girl Scouts of Utah have organized book drives and collaborations with the Utah Food Bank. Gold Award Girl Scouts from Utah have done projects to increase lupus awareness and expand athletic opportunities for girls. These projects carry additional meaning because many are inspired by personal experience, Birdsall said, as seen in an organ donor awareness project by a Gold Award Girl Scout whose family was affected by kidney disease.

“They look at things and say, ‘This affects my life and my family, and my world. Now how can I change that.’ They never cease to amaze me with what they’re doing and what they’re passionate about,” Birdsall said.

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Kalie Agy and her daughters Annie and Juliet go door to door selling Girl Scout Cookies in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Correction: In an earlier version, Callie Birdsall was incorrectly identified as marketing director for the Girl Scouts of Utah. She is the organization’s chief marketing officer. The earlier version also misstated the number of current Girl Scout badges at over 100. There are actually over 300 badges. An organ awareness project was also attributed to a cohort of Girl Scouts. It was the project of a Gold Award Girl Scout.