The Economics of Girl Scout Cookies

NOTE FROM CONEJO JOE:  This was originally posted in 2/08 but it's that time of year again.  What made me think of it is that I'm doing my taxes and eating Girl Scout Cookies.  Reminded me that Girl Scout Cookie purchases are NOT tax deductible.  But what they lack in deductibility they make up for in calories and deliciousness.

So it is February 7th, 2008 and we've already ordered 16 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  It started on a Saturday afternoon when a uniformed Scout knocked on the door, order form in hand.  My son helped me choose 6 boxes, mostly Thin Mints and those addictive peanut butter patties I shove in my mouth two at a time.  Then a week a later a guy in the office took orders for his daughter.  Another 4 boxes for me.  But at least one of my selections was the allegedly low calorie "Cina-Spins" (won't be low calorie for me when I eat triple the recommend portion).  In the meantime my wife ordered 6 boxes from a friend's daughter.  No doubt we will voraciously eat them all.

Girl Scout Cookies are big business.  Nearly 200 million boxes are sold per year by 2.7 million girl scouts (and their parents).  The price of Girl Scout Cookies ranges from $2.50 to $4 depending on where you live.  Locally they are $4 but across the country the average price is $3.50 per box.  Of that $3.50, about 90 cents goes to 2 companies that make the cookies, $2 goes towards Scout programs, training and facilities costs, 20 cents goes towards Scout incentive programs and 50 cents goes to the local Scout troops for activities and programs.

Are Girl Scout Cookies tax deductible?  Technically no, not unless you buy them and donate them to a charity instead of devouring them.  So if you are not a cookie fan or are on a diet, consider donating money to the Scouts directly, bypassing the cookies.  You'll have a tax deduction and your waistline will benefit.

Why aren't Girl Scout Cookies sold online?  Well actually they are, but are not supposed to be.  Today I checked eBay and there were 79 listings for Girl Scout Cookies.  Selling cookies on the Internet is prohibited by the Girl Scouts yet the "black market" for them continues.  Some people just have to have their cookies delivered to their door via UPS I suppose. 

Thin Mints are still tops.  25% of Girl Scout Cookies sold are Thin Mints.  Let's do the math.  That means 50 million boxes and with 32 cookies per box that equates to 1.6 BILLION Thin Mint cookies per year.  At 40 calories per cookie we're talking 64 BILLION calories per year on Thin Mint cookies.  But who's counting.

Girl Scout Cookies have been around nationally since 1936.  Prior to then local troops sold cookies, often baking them themselves.  The only hiatus came during WWII, when calendars were sold instead of cookies.

Looking for Girl Scout Cookies but can't find them?  Visit

For more information about about the Girl Scout Cookies program, click here.