It's that time of year again when everyone's thoughts turn to love - love of Thin Mints and Caramel deLites, to be exact.
Girl Scouts will once again be descending on the Minot area with boxes of cookies that more often than not prove too tempting to pass up, even if it means breaking a dieting resolution or two. Sue Winter, program specialist with Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons in Minot, said their office was taking delivery of 43,200 boxes of cookies Tuesday morning, and the sale begins Saturday.
"So all the girls in Minot, Minot Air Force Base, all the surrounding areas will be out selling their cookies. And we sell our cookies direct. That means when they come to your door or you go to a booth, they'll have the cookies with them so you can get your cookies right away," Winter said. "Which is a nice plus with our sale, because you get them right away and get to eat them, and you don't have to wait."
Girl Scout cookies will go on sale Saturday. Thin Mints, left, are the most popular cookie nationally, while Caramel deLites, center, are most popular in northern states, including North Dakota. At right are Peanut Butter Patties, another popular choice.
Along with the traditional door-to-door sales method, Winter said there will be booths around town that will sell cookies for those who don't know any Girl Scouts or don't have any come to their door. Winter said there will be booths at MarketPlace Foods locations and at Dakota Square Mall throughout the sale period, which ends on Saturday, March 24.
The booths are generally open on weekends, which is also when Girl Scouts usually sell the cookies door-to-door as well. Winter said the girls are allowed to sell them anytime, but are encouraged to sell only during daylight hours for safety reasons. Most only sell on the weekends because there isn't a lot of daylight left after school and they also need a parent or other adult to go with them.
People who want cookies and don't have a Girl Scout stop by can also visit the website (gsdakotahorizons.com) to fill out a form and have a girl come to their house.
This is the second year the Girl Scouts will be selling the cookies direct. In the past, they would have customers fill out an order form, and the cookies would take about a month to come in. The girls would then have to go back to each customer to deliver them.
"In North Dakota that just doesn't really work with weather and that kind of stuff, and then girls are having to go out twice," Winter said.
Along with the customers getting instant gratification, the Girl Scouts get the funds immediately.
"And it also puts the funds in the troop hands so they can do what they'd like to do with that," Winter said. "Whether it's going on a field trip, whether it's buying a new uniform, whether it's doing a community service project, the girls then have those funds right away to use for that troop."
Winter said part of the money goes to the troop, while the girls themselves get some of it in the form of Girl Scout gift certificates, and the rest goes to the council to support programming for the girls and other things.
This new method not only gets the Girl Scouts their funds more quickly, it results in more sales.
"Last year when we went to a direct sale we had a 40 percent increase in the amount of cookies that we sold," Winter said. "So that's why we obviously decided to stick with the direct sale, because it was much more successful."
The boxes are $4 apiece, and there are an assortment of flavors. The legendary Thin Mints, which are chocolate-covered mints and are the most popular choice nationally year after year, are of course being sold. Winter said they are the second-best selling cookie in the entire United States behind only the Oreo.
"And actually Girl Scouts have five of the top 10 best-selling cookies in the country," Winter said.
There are also Caramel deLites, which has caramel, coconut and chocolate. Winter said these are the best sellers for the Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons council, while Thin Mints are in second place. The council covers the second-largest geographical area nationwide and consists of all of North and South Dakota, as well as small parts of Minnesota and Iowa. Winter said the council sells over 1 million boxes per year.
Generally speaking, she noted southern states sell more Thin Mints while northern states sell more Caramel deLites.
"I don't know if it's because it's wintertime and everyone's kind of cold, or what, and mint is kind of a cool thing," Winter said.
After the big two, there are Lemonades, a shortbread cookie with lemon icing; Shortbread, a traditional shortbread cookie; Peanut Butter Sandwich, which has peanut butter filling between oatmeal cookies; Peanut Butter Patties, a vanilla cookie with peanut butter filling and a chocolate coating; Shout Outs!, a Belgian-style caramelized cookie; and Thanks-A-Lot, a shortbread cookie with chocolate.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, and to celebrate they have given the Shortbread cookies special packaging, as they were the original cookie Girl Scouts sold. Winter said they are having an event at the International Peace Garden in May, and will also be having a statewide campout on the Capitol Grounds in Bismarck in July.
"That's kind of our big celebration," Winter said of the campout in Bismarck.
Winter said they've been seeing a steady increase in sales, due at least in part to an increase in membership the past three years, especially in the Williston area. To give the girls some incentive to sell even more cookies this year, some pretty incredible prizes are up for grabs.
Any girls who manage to sell 2,012 boxes of cookies get an Apple iPad. For 1,000 boxes, it's a computer, and for 750 boxes it's their choice of a Nintendo DS or a flip camera.
On average, most girls sell around 150 boxes. Winter did note, however, that in their district, which includes Minot, Bismarck, Dickinson and Williston, there were 40 girls last year who sold 1,000 boxes. If the individual prices weren't enough, they are also cumulative, which means hitting a higher goal also gets the prizes for the lower goals.
"The girls are really excited about selling this year because it's our 100th anniversary," Winter said. "So if they sell the 2,012, they get the iPad, and the computer, and the choice between the flip camera and the Nintendo DS. So we kind of just threw out some big incentives to try and get those girls to kind of go the extra mile."