It’s that time of year again: Girl Scout cookie season. While most of us are dreaming of Thin Mints and Caramel Delights, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is taking issue with the Girl Scouts of the USA for the marketing of their newest cookie, Mango Crémes with NutriFusion. The Girl Scouts claim that these cookies provide nutritional value equivalent to that of fruit. From a cookie? This sounds pretty unlikely, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest agrees.
Typically, the Girl Scouts have been a great model for marketing strategy. They set a goal, they have rewards, and they market to high foot traffic areas, such as grocery stores and shopping malls where people are all ready planning to spend money. Not only do they sell to the average walker-by, most Girl Scouts have a repeat customer base that they can rely on each season, composed of mostly family, friends, parents’ co-workers, teachers, and more. Some troops choose to donate a portion of their funds to a charity, another smart marketing strategy.
While the troops themselves have achieved a simple and successful marketing plan, corporate clearly has not. Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for CSPI, said, “If there were a badge for misleading marketing, I’m afraid the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. just earned it.” The Girl Scout’s cookie manufacturer, ABC Smart Cookies, described the mango crème as providing “all the nutrient benefits of eating cranberries, pomegranates, oranges, grapes and strawberries.” While the mango filling may be enriched with nutrients, ingredients also include corn syrup and enriched flour, which you probably would not find in your typical strawberry or grape. Additionally, a Mango Crème cookie has about 20 more calories per cookie than a Thin Mint, as well as more sugar, sodium, and fat.
Marketing a cookie as a piece of fruit is an obviously misleading tactic to children and parents alike, especially to the children selling these cookies to people without knowing the true nutritional facts of a cookie that they believe to be healthy. It is not surprising for CSPI to be concerned with this strategy, considering the staggering rates of childhood obesity today. In a society laden with three-week juice cleanses and low-carb, no-carb crash diets, though, it is also not surprising that the Girl Scouts tried to target the health conscious. Will it be worth if for the Girl Scouts to aim their cookies at the health conscious? So far, they seem to have increased criticism more than sales.
Is it wrong to market a cookie as fruit? Probably. Will people stop buying Girl Scout cookies because of this misleading marketing? Probably not. So before you decide to get wild and stray from your typical order of Tagalongs and Trefoils for this new, “healthier” alternative, maybe stick to your usual and take your vitamins in the morning, because 6% of your recommended daily vitamin intake is about all that this cookie will provide you with over another, tastier choice.
– Brianna Rasmussen