Girl Scout Vs. Oreo: Which Cookie Brand Is Really Number One?

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Despite the increasingly wide availability of things like gourmet chocolates and artisanal donuts, we are still a nation of Cookie Monsters. By one measure, the average American eats 19,000 cookies in a lifetime — not counting the ones they ate as kids. A recent interview with the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, however, made us wonder which brands most of us are shoving in our mouths these days.
"We are the second-largest cookie business in America, second only to Oreo," Sylvia Acevedo said on the Freakonomics podcast this week (which was brought to our attention by FoodBeast). She confirmed that those plucky little salespeople sell us about $700-$800 million worth of Thin Mints, Samoas, and gluten-free caramel chocolate chip cookies every year.
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Oreo generated $674.2 million in sales in 2017, which means they might even have been beaten by those girls. It's an impressive feat, considering that most Girl Scouts only sell their cookies from January-April every year.
Let me brush the crumbs off my shirt and before giving you some other eye-opening cookie stats:
- If you take into account Nabisco and Oreo's parent company, Mondelez International, the Girl Scouts aren't even near the big guys, who generated $2.92 billion in sales in 2017, according to Statista.com.
- So-called "Private Label" cookie brands came in at No. 2, with $1.16 billion.
- They're followed by Kellogg's (which owns Keebler, Famous Amos, and Chips Deluxe) at $548 million. McKee (owner of Little Debbie among others) is No. 4, and Pepperidge Farms is at 5.
- According to a Nestlé Toll House poll in 2017, chocolate chip cookies are the most popular cookie in 18 states, followed by peanut butter chocolate chip. Considering this comes from a chocolate chip maker, we take that with a large grain of sea salt.
- Not a stat, but a very helpful tip from me to you: If you're craving the taste of a Thin Mint stashed in the freezer long after you've devoured the Girl Scout cookies you bought this year, Back to Nature Fudge Mint cookies taste exactly the same.
Before you go thinking your taste buds are too sophisticated to have enriched those giant conglomerates, check again. For example, my personal favorite chocolate chip cookie brand, Tate's Bake Shop, just sold to Mondolez this year. Your move, Girl Scouts.
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