Girl Scouts of America and their cookie sales have become a microcosm of the business, social and cultural forces that shape American society and entrepreneurship these days. The fact that the group now is testing gluten-free cookies is only one result.
The group has a more progressive reputation than the Boy Scouts of America because of its earlier tack toward non-discrimination against homosexuals in membership and leadership. But that decision hasn't spared the Girl Scouts—from national leadership down to individual uniform-wearing girls—from having to confront all sorts of other complicated modernities.
Take a couple of recent incidents involving Girl Scouts and their interfaces with the modern adult world. In one, North Texas Girl Scouts have fired back at a Facebook picture of two adults carrying guns and posing with Girl Scouts selling cookies in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The adults are part of a gun-rights group, but the local Girl Scout council separated itself from those photographed. "We did NOT endorse this," the council said, according to Fox TV in Dallas.
Meanwhile, Girl Scouts in Arizona are having to change the way they peddle their iconic cookies by adding security and keeping cash under tighter wraps after thieves swiped two cash boxes from cookie stands in Tucscon last year, according to KMVT.
And a Girl Scout in Salem, Ore., learned a potentially valuable lesson in intellectual-property protection after the local council objected to how an independent coffee shop was buying lots of boxes of Thin Mints from her—and then putting them into a coffee concoction for which it appropriated the Thin Mints name.
Capital One is trying to make things easier for local Girl Scouts in the Washington, D.C., area by equipping them with mobile Spark Pay app technology that enables credit-card transactions through a smartphone or tablet, allowing more convenient ringing up of sales of Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints, noted the Washington Post.
All of which makes the decision to test Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies seem rather uncomplicated by comparison. Tapping into the growing gluten-free frenzy in CPG goods in the US, the New York-based organization is testing the new cookies in 20 markets as part of the ongoing annual cookie sale.
And, oh, yes—don't be surprised if GMOs are the next issue that gets the Girl Scouts' attention. Its website, according to FoodBusinessNews.net, already semi-apologizes for the presence of GMO-containing ingredients in Girl Scout Cookies.
"Our bakers determine whether to use" them in Girl Scout Cookies "based on a range of market-related factors and depending on the specific cookie recipe," the website says. "Girls Scouts recognizes that many people have concerns regarding GMO ingredients, and we monitor member and consumer opinion on this matter."