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Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell: Relax, people — they're just cookies

| Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, 7:03 p.m.
S'mores, a campfire favorite, are available already assembled as a Girl Scout cookie.
Sutmitted
S'mores, a campfire favorite, are available already assembled as a Girl Scout cookie.

Just as my annual diet has begun showing promise, my greatest obstacle to success is upon me: Girl Scout cookie season has begun.

My problem with Girl Scout cookies is personal. But, like everything else in our culture, some people have moral or political problems with them.

Some nutritionists say the cookies are unhealthy, so it’s immoral for Girl Scouts to promote these sugary, fatty treats to a nation struggling with an obesity epidemic.

Some conservatives say Girl Scouts openly promote progressive values and praise prominent progressive women, so purchasing Girl Scout cookies is tantamount to supporting progressives’ politics.

Some progressives are still smarting because Girl Scouts marched in President Trump’s inaugural parade — even though Girl Scouts have marched in every presidential inaugural parade.

And some particularly anti-capitalist progressives are unhappy that cookie sales teach Girl Scouts the art of commercialism.

Hey, people, relax! They’re just cookies!

Still, these cookies present two primary challenges to so many of us.

First, they’re addictive. I’ve been known to consume entire sleeves of Thin Mints in one sitting, washing them down with a bucket of ice-cold whole milk — none of that 2-percent nonsense!

Second, everywhere we turn, someone, often a Girl Scout’s parent, is pressuring us to place an order.

This has become the season to “hide” from friends and relatives on Facebook, sneak out of church extra early (et tu, Deacon Brown?) and dodge multiple colleagues at work.

The best story about Girl Scout cookie pressure in the workplace that I’ve heard happened last year at the Pentagon. An Air Force general was reprimanded, reports USA Today, “for encouraging a subordinate to retrieve boxes of Trefoils and Tagalongs from the general’s car for a display in the office.” I can imagine how it went from there:

“Sergeant, I’d consider it a personal favor if you ordered a dozen boxes from my daughter,” said the general.

“Sir, yes, sir!” the sergeant replied.

Look, the Girl Scouts organization was founded in 1912 to help girls develop physically, mentally and spiritually. The annual cookie sale, which originated in 1917, was designed to help teach girls new skills and responsibilities — not to have parents micro-manage those responsibilities for them.

I understand that we live in a time when parents are afraid to allow children to sell cookies door-to-door or to leave them unattended at a booth in front of a supermarket.

While it’s OK for parents to assist, Girl Scout leaders recommend that parents not sell cookies on their daughters’ behalf.

Here’s why, according to the Girl Scouts website: “Every time you buy a box, you help girls learn five essential skills — goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics — all while helping them better themselves and their communities.”

So long as you buy that box directly from a Girl Scout.

Some Girl Scouts have mastered new skills quickly.

One enterprising young lady, reports The Huffington Post, sold 117 boxes in two hours by setting up shop outside a legal medical-marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. Some Girl Scouts in Los Angeles persuaded actor Tom Hanks to use his social media platforms to promote their cookie stand.

And in 2014, one young lady in Oklahoma City broke the record for Girl Scout cookies sold in a year: more than 21,000 boxes. During her Girl Scout career, she sold more than 100,000 boxes.

The regrettable part of her success? I was her only customer.

Freelance writer Tom Purcell of Library is author of “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood.” Visit him on the web at TomPurcell.com.

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