This year Girl Scouts are celebrating their 100th year of cookie sales. Generations of girls and their families have sold (and bought) cookies annually to raise funds for scout projects for one hundred years. What started out as great fundraising idea has grown into a bit of a national cookie obsession.

It all started back in 1917 in when local Girl Scouts in Muskogee, Oklahoma had a great idea to bake and sell homemade cookies as a fundraiser. The idea went viral and other Girl Scout troops across the country replicated it.  In the late 1930s, Girl Scout Cookie sales were so strong that the scouts could no longer bake enough cookies at home to satisfy the growing demand. Girls Scouts of the United States’ national organization began licensing commercial bakers to help.

So what does this have to do with texture analysis? Quite a bit. Today, commercial bakeries ABC Girl Scout Cookie Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers produce all of the Girl Scout cookies that are sold in the United States. It’s up to each regional scout council to decide which vendor to use. It’s this choice that has created a passionate American discussion about which vendor makes the very best Girl Scout cookies. Cookies purchased from Scouts in Miami may be different than those purchased in New York City. Or even those purchased in Orlando versus Miami. Consistency can be a challenge with any product that is made by more than one vendor and Girl Scout Cookies are a good example of this.

We decided to bring science into the discussion and test three comparable cookie flavors from each vendor to find out precisely what the textural differences are. The brands that we compared are Shortbread vs. Trefoils, Thin Mints, and Peanut Butter Sandwiches vs. Do Si Dos. The cookies were all purchased at the same time from local Girl Scouts and shipped to one of our offices for testing. The textural differences were examined with four different test methods in conjunction with the TA.XTPlus Texture Analyzer and Exponent Software. The methods include a three point bend test with the TA-92N Three Point Bend Rig, a puncture test with the TA-52 2 mm diameter puncture probe, a shear test with the TA-42 45° Chisel Blade, and a compression test with the TA-25C Crunchiness Set.

What did we find? We discovered that while comparable cookie varieties from each bakery visually appear similar, they have clearly measurable and quantifiable textural differences.  The ABC Bakers Thin Mint and Peanut Butter Sandwiches/Do-Si-Dos cookies were generally harder and tougher than the Little Brownie cookies in two out of three types of cookies with Shortbread/Trefoils as the exception.

Want to see the complete results of our testing to find out more or try it yourself? Request our newest application study now by contacting your regional manager or through our website!