Why Your Girl Scout Cookie Order Might Look Different This Year

Instead of the iconic cardboard boxes, some Girl Scout cookies are being sold in pouches this year.

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Girl Scout Cookies boxes in back of minivan
Photo: Mindy Schauer/Digital First Media/Orange County Register (Getty Images)

In case you haven’t heard us shout it from the rooftops yet, it’s Girl Scout Cookie season, and there’s a lot to celebrate. The newest addition to the lineup, Adventurefuls, is a delicious, crispy take on a brownie that customers are eagerly snapping up. Those who might be missing either door-to-door cookie sales or local cookie booths in the pandemic era can easily order cookies digitally using the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app. And for those who avoid gluten for any reason, the cookie lineup now includes not one, but two different flavors just for you. These are good times. In fact, only one aspect of the cookie experience is left in doubt: Why are some of the cookie orders arriving in flexible pouch-style packaging, rather than the iconic cardboard boxes?

I first noticed the discrepancy when a friend sent me a photo posing proudly with his Girl Scout cookie haul—16 boxes in all (so far, he is quick to point out). Standing out from among the neat stacks of green Thin Mint boxes and purple Samoa boxes was a flimsier-looking package, its plastic wrapper reflecting wavy light into the camera. These turned out to be the Lemon-Ups, which the Girl Scouts website describes as “Crispy lemon cookies baked with inspiring messages.”

Before I could even congratulate my friend on purchasing an absolutely advisable amount of Girl Scout cookies, I asked about the Lemon-Ups. Why, why weren’t they in a box like all the rest?

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“I couldn’t tell you,” my friend texted back. Then he sent some bonus photos of the cookies for good measure.

Girl Scout Cookies Lemon-Ups in plastic package
Photo: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times (Getty Images)
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As you might know by now, Girl Scout Cookies are a little different depending on where you live. Two different commercial bakers are licensed by Girl Scouts of the USA to produce Girl Scout Cookies: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Over the decades, this divide has not only accounted for slight differences in taste (some swear one bakery is superior to the other), but also naming conventions; I grew up boxes of Caramel deLites rather than Samoas, for example, but then the distribution zones changed and now the names have all switched on me. (Okay, this happened at least 15 years ago, but I am still adjusting.) So, is this a particularity of one bakery versus the other?

Nope, turns out I’m just a few years behind the curve. Multiple varieties of Girl Scout Cookie now come in non-cardboard packaging—and for a delicious reason.

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A Girl Scouts source confirmed to The Takeout that Lemon-Ups are not the only cookies in the divergent packaging—in fact, a good chunk of the lineup is sold in non-cardboard packaging now, with four of 12 cookie varieties sold in plastic-wrapped trays:

  • Toast-Yay!
  • Lemon-Ups
  • Lemonades (Not to be confused with Lemon-Ups, these are “Savory, refreshing shortbread cookies topped with a tangy lemon-flavored icing”)
  • Girl Scout S’mores

The cookies are sold in plastic overwrap when they are too large to fit in the traditional cardboard boxes. A single Toast-Yay! cookie, for example, is physically larger than a Trefoil, Samoa, or Do-Si-Do. Which, in my reptilian treat-seeking brain, is a very exciting indicator that I should be selecting all the cookies sold in plastic overwrap. More cookie per serving!

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The packaging does not mean that one variety is fresher than another, however. Since even the cardboard boxes come with a layer of plastic film inside (either around a plastic tray or a sleeve of cookies), you’re getting a peak quality cookie either way. But I don’t think anyone worries too much about Girl Scout Cookies sitting around long enough to go stale.

Do any of your favorites come in the plastic packs? I think I need to add some Toast-Yay!s to my order.