All Girl Scout cookies not created equal

These boxes may contain very different cookies.

These boxes may contain very different cookies.  (Interbake Foods/Girl Scouts of the USA)

Have the trustworthy Girl Scouts been caught misleading avid cookie fans?

If you’ve ordered Girl Scout cookies in different parts of the country, you may have noticed your boxes have different names. That’s because the organization contracts two different bakeries—ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers—to whip up these coveted cookies. But over the years, Girl Scouts has maintained that “whether the box says [the cookie's literal name or its creative name], it’s the delicious cookie you've grown to love,” i.e. they taste the same despite different monikers. 

But does a Caramel deLite really taste the same as a Samoa? And are those Peanut Butter Patties as delectable as Tagalongs?

To set the record straight, a team of cookie investigators at Central Track ordered boxes from ABC and Little Brownie to conduct a side-by-side taste test with surprising results. Not only were many of the cookies manufactured with different ingredients, dark versus milk chocolate for example, but some cookies produced with the same name even had a different taste and texture.

For reference, Little Brownie Bakers manufactures Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Trefoils, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Savannah Smiles, Rah-Rah Raisins, and Toffee-tastic. ABC Bakers turn out Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Shortbread, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Cranberry Citrus Crisps.

So what’s the real deal with these cookie company products?  

Central Track found that Caramel deLites use milk chocolate for their stripes while Samoas use dark chocolate. The latter also contain more caramel.

Peanut Butter Patties are actually thicker in size and use a “milkier chocolate” than Tagalongs. Each peanut butter has a different taste but the team did not elaborate how.

While Trefoils and Shortbread look remarkably different—Trefoils have little holes—Central Track notes that this pair tasted pretty much exactly the same.

But when it came to the beloved Thin Mints, which both companies market as such, Central Track found that the cookies from “ Little Brownie Bakers are less dense than Thin Mints from ABC, which have a much crunchier texture.” The ABC cookies were mintier than Little Brownie’s but the outside was much rougher and less aesthetically pleasing.

A reached out for a comment to the Girl Scouts of the USA.  We'll let you know what they say. 

UPDATE: Kelly Parisi, chief communications executive for Girl Scouts USA, told via e-mail that "Currently, two commercial bakers are licensed by Girl Scouts of the USA to produce Girl Scout Cookies: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers.  Each Girl Scout council chooses a baker to supply their cookies each season.  So, a cookie may be called Samoas when baked by one baker, and Caramel deLites when baked by the other.  The two cookies do look and taste similar, but the recipes and ingredients may differ slightly."

Parisi directed curious cookie fans the Girl Scout's FAQ page and "Meet the Cookies" for more information about both bakers.