Girl Scout Cookie Ingredients and Real Food

I love Girl Scout cookies. I was a Girl Scout all the way through Senior (high school), even though my own girls aren’t Scouts.

Girl Scout cookies are as American as apple pie, right?

I won’t be buying any this year.  Every single variety has GMO soy in it, most have hydrogenated oils, and a few have HFCS.  Of course they all have white flour in them, but so do almost all cookies on the shelf of the store.  These are cookies, after all, not nutrition dense snacks.  (Personally I don’t think an occasional treat with white flour or white sugar hurts anything.  It’s the other ingredients that I think are more harmful.)

When I started looking at the Girl Scout cookie ingredients of the different varieties, here are some red-flag ingredients you might want to be aware of.  The website lists a couple of different versions of favorites (i.e., Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs®) and depending on what bakery or name they are marketed under, they contain different ingredients.

Artificial food dyes: Dulce de Leche (yellow #5, yellow #6, blue #2), Caramel deLites ® (Red #40, Yellow #5, Blue #2), Peanut Butter Patties (Red #40, Yellow #5, Blue #1, Blue #2) note, a few cookies contained caramel color, often derived from GMO corn sources.

MSG: no Girl Scout cookie lists MSG or its various other names on their ingredient list.

Hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats: Do-Si-Dos®, Samoas®, Tagalongs®, Thin Mints, Caramel DeLites®, Peanut Butter Patties®, Thanks a Lot, Lemonades.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Dulce de Leche, Thin Mints (ABC), Peanut Butter Patties®, Reduced Fat Daisy Go Rounds, Thanks a Lot.

GMO Soy products: All varieties (usually in the form of soybean oil and/or soy lecithin)

GMO corn products: Lemon Chalet Cremes, Do-Si-Dos®, Samoas®, Dulce de Leche, Thank U Berry Much, Tagalongs®, Thin Mints, Reduced Fat Daisy Go Rounds, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Thanks a Lot, Lemonades.

Artificial flavors: Lemon Chalet Cremes (artificial ginger flavor), Trefoils, Samoas®, Dulce de Leche, Tagalongs®, Thin Mints, Reduced Fat Daisy Go Rounds, Thanks a Lot, Lemonades

Other notes: Shortbread is traditionally made with butter, flour, and sugar.  The Girl Scout variety contains no butter but does have 11 ingredients, including palm oil and artificial flavors.

The cookie closest to ‘real food’ is possibly the Thank U Berry Munch, which has actual dried cranberries and no hydrogenated oils, but it still contains corn syrup solids and artificial flavors.

The cookie farthest from ‘real food’ are Peanut Butter PattiesCaramel deLites and Dulce de Leche. Peanut Butter Patties have sugar as the first ingredient, hydrogenated oils, food colors, HFCS, artificial flavoring, and GMO ingredients.  Caramel deLites have sugar as the first ingredient, GMO corn and soy, hydrogenated palm oils, HFCS, Red #40, Yellow #5, and artificial flavors.  Dulce de Leche cookies contain GMO ingredients, HFCS, and yellow #5.

The products produced by Girl Scout cookie supplier ABC Bakeries are particularly filled with “fake” food, especially HFCS and fake colors.

Are you buying Girl Scout cookies? My favorites are Samoas but I will sadly pass on them this year.

Daisy Go Rounds,Thanks a Lot, and Lemonades are registered trademarks of GSUSA.

Linking up to Healthy Home Economist Real Food Carnival!

I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Jill in San Diego January 29, 2014, 12:00 pm

    I came across your website when I googled “girl scout cookie ingredients”. Thank you for posting this!! I was a Girl Scout for 12 years and had incredible experiences through the program, but I will be making donations this year instead of buying cookies, for exactly this reason. My family has worked really hard to cut out processed foods and eat “real food” and if I’m going to indulge in a special treat with white flour and white sugar it’s going to at least contain “real” ingredients, not HFCS and GMO products and artifical dyes (not to mention the ever-questionable “natural” flavor…) . I’m going to bookmark your site and look it over later when I have more time; another real food resource is always a happy find for me!

  • Catherine January 30, 2014, 1:15 pm

    Jill–I just wanted to point out that this post is three years old, and GSA has changed the ingredients of their cookies. Still not perfect, but much changed from when the original post was written.

  • Miriam Hartman February 8, 2014, 12:52 pm

    In addition, I would categorize “natural flavors” as something to be wary of. There isn’t anything “natural” about most of them, since they may be highly chemically processed (even though they start from an organic, rather than synthetic, source).

  • Laura March 4, 2014, 4:04 pm

    I just wrote about this topic on my blog today! They are still unhealthy cookies three years after you wrote your piece….

  • Patricia Lillian December 2, 2014, 7:10 pm

    It just doesn’t seem right that the GS cookies are so low quality. I think that is the real issue for me, that they are not just bad, they are the worst, ingredient wise. At a time when all the cookie makers (think Oreo) are changing their recipes to eliminate some of the most bad for you cheap dreck, they continue to churn out their substandard products and sell them like crazy. It doesn’t represent them well. I actually called the company that manufacturers them and got no honesty at all, so phooey on them.


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Desperately thrifty mom of 10, sharing my frugal tips, easy shortcuts, recipes, and thoughts on natural living and real food.

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