Where to buy Girl Scout cookies amid 2023 shortages

For many people, February is the start of the most wonderful time of the year: Girl Scout cookie season. Just about anyone can appreciate the combination of adorable kids enthusiastically exploring the wide world of entrepreneurship with delicious cookies that are only $5 a box. But whether he’s a Samoan devotee or desperate to try the new Raspberry Rally flavor, he may have noticed it’s been harder than usual to score his favorite Girl Scout cookies.

From supply chain turmoil to instant sales, it’s been a strange time for Girl Scout cookies. Here’s everything you need to know about why the country’s most beloved bake sale has been a shitshow this season.

How do Girl Scout cookie sales work?

Cookies have been a part of the Girl Scout legacy since 1917, when a group of Scouts sold self-baked cookies to raise funds for activities. These days, there are two ways to buy Girl Scout cookies. You’re probably familiar with the first: in-person sales, which means meeting an adorable Scout with a table full of Samoas, Do-Si-Dos and Trefoils in front of your local supermarket or hair salon. Before cookie season actually begins, troop leaders place orders online for the cookies they hope to sell and divide them among Scouts for in-person sales.

Girl Scouts sold cookies exclusively in person until 2014, when the organization launched its Digital Cookie platform in an effort to modernize its cookie sales program and allow consumers to shop online. On Digital Cookie’s platform, shoppers can enter their zip code and the organization will ensure that proceeds from the order benefit a local troop. The organization then sends the cookies directly to the buyer’s doorstep, without the need for direct interaction with little humans. Each Scout also receives a link to a Digital Cookie website that her friends and family can use to directly support her Scout during cookie season.

Why are some Girl Scout cookies so hard to find this year?

As has been widely reported, many Girl Scout troops say they have had trouble ordering the cookies they sell in person every year. Girl Scouts have contracts with two bakeries: Little Brownie Bakers (or LBB) and ABC Cookies, each supplying cookies to troops in different regions of the country. The cookies differ slightly depending on the bakery that makes them: Little Brownie Bakers’ Samoas are called Caramel deLites when made by ABC Cookies, for example.

In November 2022, Girl Scout leaders were notified that Little Brownie Bakers was “experiencing supply chain issues” that would affect the 2023 cookie season, both in-person and online sales. It’s a bit tricky, but essentially the shortage meant that each troop would receive their initial cookie order, placed in January, but if the troop sold out earlier, they may not be able to order in the future. However, some troop leaders have suggested on platforms like Reddit that even some of those initial orders were canceled by Little Brownie Bakers, especially those containing Raspberry Rally cookies.

According to a Girl Scouts spokesperson, the shortage was exacerbated by recent power outages at a Little Brownie Bakers factory in Louisville, Kentucky. “We can confirm that Little Brownie Bakers notified us that they experienced severe weather that caused power outages at the Louisville factory,” the spokesperson said. “We are very disappointed that LBB is once again having trouble managing its production.”

As far as online ordering goes, what’s available right now varies, depending on where you are in the country. Even though both are in regions supplied by Little Brownie Bakers, if you’re buying from a troop in eastern Oklahoma, you can get pretty much any cookie other than the sold-out Raspberry Rally. However, shoppers hoping to support the Scouts in Beverly Hills, California are limited to just three options: Adventurefuls, S’mores and Thin Mints.

Why is the Raspberry Rally cookie particularly rare?

New Girl Scout Cookie flavors are always popular, but Raspberry Rally sparked a frenzy even Girl Scouts didn’t anticipate. “We saw unprecedented demand for the Raspberry Rally, which was selling at an astronomical rate,” the Girl Scouts spokesman said, though he declined to provide a specific number of boxes sold. The raspberry-flavored chocolate-coated cookie sold out entirely online in less than a day when it launched online on January 27, and at least some of the precious few boxes that made it into the world ended up on eBay for as much as $40. per box. After that story went viral, the Girl Scouts urged consumers to avoid gray market cookies, noting that funds from each year’s cookie sales go directly to supporting local Girl Scout troops.

Is this the first time Girl Scout cookie season has been this chaotic?

No! Little Brownie Bakers experienced similar production problems last year, after the Girl Scouts introduced Adventurefuls, a crunchy brownie cookie with a “salted caramel cream” filling. According to the San Francisco Chroniclethat shortage was caused by staffing issues at the bakery, which delayed the training and ordering process Girl Scouts go through before sales of cookies to the public actually begin.

As for this year, the spokesperson says Girl Scout leadership is “keeping all options open to do what’s right for our girls.” “GSUSA is currently focused on supporting our Girl Scouts, our volunteers and their councils during this challenging cookie season, but we will address these issues with our bakery partner in the future.”

What if I want to buy cookies right now?

Girl Scouts have “worked hard to protect girls’ in-person booths by routing available inventory to in-person channels,” according to the spokesperson, which means there could be a cookie sale near you this weekend. For those who need to shop online, the Cookie Finder will also help direct you to a nearby Scout’s cookie website. If the selection of cookies is limited in your area, you can try other zip codes where there may be more options, and still receive cookies wherever you are. Your dollars won’t benefit your local troop if you buy this way, but you will still support Girl Scouts.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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