Over the last year or so I’ve gotten to know several local farmers and have also done a good bit of reading on the subject of fresh, local foods. Through all that I have learned much about the benefits of eating what is in season. The trouble recently has been that Mother Nature cannot seem to make up her mind what season it’s going to be in Mississippi. We’re still getting winter greens from the farm, but spring flowers are blooming in the yard, and I may have to mow soon. But there is one seasonal food that is consistent year after year, no matter the weather, and lately this food (which is only available for a month or so each year) has begun to show itself. There are eight or nine varieties available, and you sometimes have to know the right people to find them. That’s right — I’m talking about Girl Scout Cookies.
Case in point: the other day I was in the auto shop chatting with my good buddy Charlie. I noticed he had a few boxes within arm’s reach, and his co-worker in the desk behind had a pretty good supply as well, ready for either consumption or delivery. He was very kind and generous to offer me a Do-Si-Do, which is my second favorite variety, so it was very difficult to say “No, thank you.” But it wasn’t because I would not have enjoyed it immensely, and it really didn’t matter that it was still the breakfast hour. It was more that I had a whole box at home and even more within my own arm’s reach at my station at work. Truly, Girl Scout Cookies are in peak season.
Everyone has their favorites, of course. According to the official figures on the Girl Scouts website, the most popular are Thin Mints (25 percent), then Samoas (19 percent), Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs (13 percent), Peanut Butter Sandwiches/Do-Si-Do’s (11 percent) and Shortbread/Trefoils (9 percent). The rest of the varieties make up the remaining percentage. There are even a couple of places where you can vote for your favorite, and the results are roughly the same, though Samoas take a slight lead. (I think there is a conspiracy.) I voted for Peanut Butter Patties. I have loved them most of all for as long as I remember Girl Scout Cookies. And I would have voted against Samoas if there had been a button for that. Coconut — yuck. Another interesting stat from one of the two bakers was the amount of time it takes to mix the dough and bake a batch of cookies. Total time ranges from 35 to 47 minutes, which is ironically about the same time a box of cookies lasts once it is opened.
It’s interesting to consider the cultural phenomenon of Girl Scout Cookies. For those like me who grew up eating them, we will likely continue that practice as long as we have teeth. It doesn’t really matter that there might be a little less peanut butter in the Tagalongs over time, or one less cookie in the box, or even that we might be able to find a better tasting cookie — we’ll still buy a box or seven every season. But for someone who knows a Do-Si-Do only as a square-dancing move, or defines a Tagalong as a pesky little brother — this unfortunate soul may not understand the fascination and frenzy. To the enculturated, Girl Scout cookies are good simply because they are.
As my family was winding up dinner a few nights ago, after finishing up a box of Do-Si-Dos, I dug around and found a half roll of Thin Mints. I took one and dipped it into a tub of leftover vanilla cake frosting, directly in front of Wife, a Girl Scout alumna. You would not believe the look of horror that appeared on her face as she said, “That’s just not right — you are adulterating a Thin Mint!” My response? OMGS. (Think. Think. Okay, you got it, right?) No, that was not my response. My response was to get another Thin Mint from the roll, dip it even deeper into the frosting, look her dead in the eye, and pop the whole thing in my mouth. (Kids, do not try this at home. I am a professional.) And though I may be the first to dip one in icing, I’m certainly not the first to change the format of a Girl Scout cookie and make it into something else. For goodness’ sake, the official cookie bakers even provide recipes on their websites for every flavor.
Edy’s makes a fabulous Thin Mint ice cream from the cookies (and yes, there is also a Samoas flavor, if you like that sort of thing). When Niece Two on the fraternal side of the family called from Charlotte to offer her wares for sale, she and her sister (Niece One) even suggested that I could batter and fry them. They do know the way to their uncle’s heart. No, I haven’t tried it yet, but I can definitely see the potential of enhanced deliciousness in a deep-fried Do-Si-Do.
For many years, we lived outside the borders of America, in a land far, far away from anything resembling a Girl Scout troop. The early years were cookie poor — nobody thought to send any and we kind of lost track of cookie season. One year we were home for a while and I sent back a tape of the Super Bowl and two boxes of cookies to a friend as a gift. I could not think of a better party package. In later years we had a co-worker who took our orders and sent them to her mom, who then mailed them to us. You can’t imagine the joy of opening a package and seeing those brightly-colored boxes peeking through the bubble wrap. It was almost better than bacon.
Jay Reed is a local foodie and pharmacist. The culinary tastes expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect the appetites of the Starkville Daily News or individual members of its staff. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .