All right, I have a confession to make: I really don’t like Thin Mints.
Judging by some recent posts about Girl Scout Cookie season (and their comments), I guess this is a little heretical. As is the fact that I’m not too fussed about Girl Scout Cookies in general. I do like me some Caramel deLites (that’s what Samoas are called around these parts), but there are plenty of very similar cookies I could get at the grocery store year-round if I really wanted them. And I usually don’t. They’re tasty, but… so are a gazillion other things. Not to mention, the older I get the less I’m inclined to go for highly processed, packaged cookies at all. They were never all that high on my Favorite Treats list to begin with, and these days, living in a city where I can get awesome homemade (or close to it) cookies at several locations within 2 blocks of my apartment, I rarely find myself craving the kind sold by little girls or elves.
(Please note that this is not me getting on my food snob high horse. My food snob horse is built more like this. Packaged cookies just don’t happen to do it for me.)
So I’m feeling rather left out as I observe all the OMG THIN MIIIIIIINTS! comments sweeping the blogosphere these days.
And also, rather angry.
Why angry? About cookies? Well, let’s start with the FAQ at the Girl Scouts of America’s site.
Okay, so who wants to bet me a nickel that first question was submitted by MeMe Roth? As for the second, I cannot even believe this is a real question, let alone a frequently asked one. You know how I answer the concerns of those on low-carb diets? DON’T EAT FUCKING COOKIES.
And that’s just the tip of the ol’ ‘berg. Yesterday, Shapeling Stefanie sent me a link to this post at Ken Levine’s blog, by his daughter Annie, about how Girl Scout Cookies now come in those infernal 100-calorie packs — and, get this:
On the back of each of the cookie packs it says this:
“Girls can burn calories and have fun with 30 minutes of activities like these: Ice Skating—126 calories. Gymnastics—72 calories…”
Why don’t they just start giving out merit badges for weight loss? Or maybe their uniforms could only go up to size “medium” …y’know, for incentive. Why can’t they just call them “fun packs” like the good old days? When these little girls start thinking they’re fat and asking how many calories are in their graham crackers and juice box, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
But on the positive side, at least I’m reading that and thinking, “Yay, this Annie person is sane! And funny! That makes me want to stick my head in the oven a little less!”
Then I get to the comments.
I would worry less about the kids, and more about all those adults who are so weak in the face of sugary, fat-laden empty-calorie treats that they can’t face a normal-size package of them without eating the entire thing.
Some might think that it’s a bad thing to introduce kids to this stuff, but with so many bad options for (fast) food, I think it’s best that they learn about healthy eating when they’re still young.
At the same time, kids are exercising less and less and getting fatter every day. And here they are selling cookies. I don’t condone anorexia, but it might be a good idea to teach kids that you can’t eat box after box of cookies and never gain any weight
You don’t condone anorexia. That’s… nice.
And, finally, we get the full-on OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA Concern Troll:
Really!?!? Don’t you think it’s about time we start teaching kids how to manage a healthy lifestyle though good eating habits? Teach them how calories are a measure of energy and how that is converted once we eat it. We spend way too much time marketing food to our kids it is no wonder that obesity has become a problem in our country. Over the past 20 years, the proportion of overweight children ages six through 11 has more than doubled and the rate for kids 12 through 19 has tripled (CDC).
You’re misplacing blame here Annie… Eating disorders are not a result of teaching kids to eat healthy. Generally teaching healthy eating habits would include teaching kids about the dangers of not eating enough. I think the only thing Girl Scout cookies teach kids is how to push product. You’re way off base here. Honestly, the Girl Scouts should probably be selling fresh fruit.
Where to fucking begin? How about the assumption that without the aid of 100-calorie packs, people will be helpless in the face of the dreaded (but oh-so-desired) Girl Scout Cookie, and just eat BOX AFTER BOX? Children, even. Children with their child-sized stomachs. There’s certainly no way they would naturally figure out when to stop, based on cues like, oh, I don’t know… feeling satisfied? Or, failing that, eventually feeling like they’re gonna barf — which, for the vast majority of kids, will happen well before they get through one box? (And also might just teach them a valuable life lesson like, “Don’t eat so damn many cookies,” without parents, educators, or MeMe Roth ever having to say a word?)
For the gazillionth fucking time, eating “box after box” of cookies is called Binge Eating Disorder, not “What every human being would naturally do if we weren’t all bugfuck crazy about calorie-counting.” But if you don’t have BED, and instead you just have some insane fucking nightmare/fantasy about how you TOTALLY WOULD eat box after box of cookies if you ever stopped rigidly controlling your diet for ten seconds — and accordingly, you assume that that is how all fat people eat, all the time, so not only do you have to rigidly control your own diet, you’re morally obligated to make sure everyone else is equally vigilant? Well, you might have an eating disorder, too, come to think of it. But you also might just be a giant douche. In which case, please eat 10 whole boxes of STFU and call me in the morning.
Having said that, in the case of Girl Scout Cookies, this kind of hysteria is a little easier than usual to understand. As the Rotund points out, the fact that the cookies only come around once a year is a brilliant marketing plan — which is to say, it’s a brilliant recipe for making people fucking fetishize a bunch of frankly lackluster cookies.
This is one situation in which I think people freak out and eat more than they planned as an overreaction to deprivation. Meanwhile, because I’m allowed to have a fucking cookie whenever I want, I’ve had the same box of Thin Mints in my freezer since LAST Girl Scout cookie season. I only eat them with vanilla ice cream and only when that is what I really want.
They are just cookies.
I mean, of course we all know she’s lying about that box of Thin Mints, seeing as how she’s fat and all. Fat people can’t keep a box of cookies in the house for more than 15 minutes! Especially not GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! But she has a point.
If you feel powerless in the face of Girl Scout Cookies in a way you don’t when you go up against, say, Keebler or Nabisco or Mr. Christie’s products? That is not because they’re just that good (they’re really, really not) or because they have crack in them, or — listen up, this one’s important — because you are secretly harboring a hideously undisciplined, morally suspect Fat Person inside you, who’s just dying to get out and ruin all your hard work. It’s because they ONLY COME AROUND ONCE A FUCKING YEAR. You know the desired object will soon disappear for a long time, so you flip out and hoard it. It ain’t rocket science. I mean, how many Shamrock Shakes have I ordered in my lifetime purely because, you know, it’s March! It’s green! It’s special! — only to be reminded with the first sip that I don’t even like minty stuff that much? (Which is why I don’t dig the Thin Mints. I do make an exception for mojitos, though.)
And now, I hope you’re sitting down and have some smelling salts and a trusted friend nearby, because I am about to BLOW YOUR MIND…
People tend to want what they can’t have. It’s true!
For Maude’s sake, y’all. As I’m reading all this blog-talk about Girl Scout Cookies, I keep thinking of the non-American readers who must think either A) We have all lost our goddamned minds, or B) “Damn, those cookies must have solid gold in them!”
Dear non-American readers,
And as for trying to teach little girls to “eat healthy” by encouraging them to count calories consumed and burned, I will leave you with a quote from this brilliant (if not entirely fat-friendly) article La di Da linked to in comments the other day (emphasis mine):
Health and education professionals who work in the treatment and prevention of child obesity also need to be aware of the fact that their best intentions may have the potential to inadvertently do more harm than good. The unintentional creation of body image and weight concerns, dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders is a probable outcome of child obesity prevention programs that focus on the ‘problem’ of overweight and refer to issues of weight control. The vast majority of overweight children and adolescents know that they are fat and subsequently develop a poor body image and a fear of food (O’Dea et al., 1995; Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2002), as do many normal weight youth who incorrectly perceive themselves to be ‘too fat’ (Croll et al., 2002). It is a common myth that overweight children and adolescents are unconcerned about their weight or make little effort to try to control their weight. Health education messages about overweight and weight control are likely to make young people feel worse about their bodies and themselves in general.
Put that in your 100-calorie pack and eat it.