|I joined the the scouts aged 15, thus missing out cubs and scouts and going straight into the Venture scouts. At this age you basically get to go on camping weekends with your friends, girlfriends or boyfriends, where you can start fires and smash stuff up with big axes and hammers whilst cooking rudimentary curries in big metal pots. Lots of billycans of tea and digestive biscuits were also a feature of scouting as far as I could tell as well as trips to various public houses for crisps and lemonade probably. Wifey was a Venture scout too, persuing her own similar agenda on the other side of the Irish sea. So we really have to hand it to the Americans this time, as they have come up with a way to combine biscuits with scouting, and in typical land of opportunity way use it as a means of making cash.
First off a huge thanks to Monkey at himonkey.net for sending over the Girl Scout cookies. Anybody who has checked out Monkey's site will see that food is probably Monkey's specialist subject. So when the Thin Mints turned up I was very happy indeed as I had been informed by other Americans that this is one of the finest biscuits in the Girl Scouts repertoire. Monkey also popped in a pack of Samosas which are apparently celebrating their 30th anniversary.
So whilst to Americans the idea of Girl Scouts forming some sort of nationwide biscuit distribution chain might seem like a slice of pure down home good ol' something or other, to the rest of the world its a bit weird. Obviously we need to look into this a bit.
There is a lot of history involved in Girl Scout Cookies, a registered trademark just in case you were thinking of making your own. Obviously that's how they started out in the early years of the twentieth century, a home baked cookie sold to raise funds for local community Girl Scout groups across the USA. In the 1930's the Girl Scout movement had licensed commercial bakeries to produce the biscuits and by the 1940s nearly 30 bakeries across the country were making the cookies. The cookies were still sold door to door with the profits going to the Scouts. The 1970s saw a rationalistion of the range with the number of bakeries dropping to 4 and standard packs being used across all manufacturers. Today there are just two bakeries licensed to produce these historic biscuits, ABC/Interbake and Little Brownie, ours came from Little Brownie.
The Thin Mint has been a mainstay of the range since 1951, and since then has been on the mandatory list of cookies that must be baked by any of the licensed bakeries. So what is it like? Quite small at about 30mm diameter and 6mm deep, a sandwich of two thin layers of cocoa biscuit with a fine layer of mint chocolate cream between. The whole biscuit is wrapped in a thin layer of dark chocolate like substance. My first impression of the Thin Mint was that it was generally OK, no better no worse. I managed to see off three or four, which the pack tells me constitutes a 'serving'. They don't have that really overt American taste probably due to the non-appearence of corn-syrup in the recipe, but it did suffer mostly from the 'chocolate' being a mixture of hydrogenated fat, sugar, cocoa and caramel colouring. If it had to appear with some of the other great mint and chocolate biscuits from around the world such as Mint Viscount or Mint Slice it might well embarrass itself. No doubt if it is what you are used to then you would be in a state of shock if real chocolate were to ever find its way in there, as has happened with our own Wagonwheel. The Girl Scouts do now have two non trans fat biscuits, it would be great if they could sort out their Thin Mints, maybe by reverting to a 1950's recipe perhaps.
The Samosa was the more junior of the two and being covered in toasted coconut I was already regarding it suspiciously. A complicated and fiddly little number, it consists of a ring of quite spongy biscuit, the bottom of which has been dipped in that chocolate stuff again, then the rest has been covered with toffee caramel much of which has come to rest in a gutter that circles the biscuits top face. Toasted coconut has then been chucked over it to stick to the caramel and finally a few more stripes of the chocolate stuff dribbled on top. I was some what galled to find I liked them. In fact I had to force myself to stop eating them.
It's fairly obvious to me now why Girl Scout Cookies are still going strong after all these years. Most children that knock on the door of NCOTAASD HQ are in heavy disguise and after sweets in return for not carrying out an unspecified act of vandalism. Failling that they return a month later after money for singing two lines of 'We wish you a merry Christmas'. If they were to turn up all business like selling rare and intriguing biscuits then I'm fairly sure they would fleece me for most of our loose cash.