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The Great Girl Scout Cookie Shortage of World War II

Girl Scout Cookies were first sold in 1917, when one troop baked cookies to raise money. The idea caught on, and a standard cookie recipe was distributed to Girl Scout troops in 1922 for fundraisers. The idea really took off, but then World War II rationing began. Sugar and other staples were diverted for the war effort.

In the early spring of 1943, Girl Scout Cookie chairwoman A.A. Rabe had some devastating news for residents of St. Petersburg, Florida, who were looking forward to getting their boxes of Girl Scout Cookies: There weren’t going to be enough.

In a crisis the likes of which American pantries had never seen, Rabe solemnly informed supporters of the venerable female troop that a war shortage of key ingredients had led to a dramatic supply issue with thousands of boxes of cookies. If a customer had ordered two, they would be lucky to get one. If they ordered one, it was anyone’s guess as to what would happen.

“Whereas before we have always worried about how we are going to sell all of the cookies and candy that we have to sell, this year we wonder how we can supply Girl Scouts with as many boxes as they have taken orders for,” Mrs. Sidney B. Miner, Commissioner of the Scouts, explained.

Not only were customers deprived of their cookies, but the Girl Scouts then had a funding problem. So they got creative. Read the tale of the cookie shortage, and how it changed the way the Girl Scout cookie sale is done, at mental_floss.


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