Did you hear about the new Girl Scout elusive cookie, the Raspberry Rally?
This year was my daughter’s first as a Girl Scout, and her first time selling cookies to neighbors, friends, and complete strangers. Initially, 8-year-old Cora was excited to put on her Brownie vest and pull her red wagon, precariously stacked with boxes of $6 goodies, around our Santa Ana neighborhood.
We were excited about the new cookie as were many other people, but we never actually got to see any Raspberry Rally cookies or try them. And we were stumped and upset to discover that the new cookies were being resold online for $20, $50, or even $200 a box.
I set out to find out why.
The Raspberry Rally craze began when the Girl Scouts decided to try something new with their annual cookie sale. For the first time, a new cookie flavor was sold as an online exclusive. They reasoned that the move would help Girl Scouts learn new online business and e-commerce skills. Contrary to tradition, the Girl Scouts would not get their hands on any Raspberry Rally cookies to sell at the booths or door-to-door.
Instead, the girls were encouraged to share a link with shoppers who could then shop online and have the delicious raspberry-infused treats delivered, at an additional cost, directly to their homes. (This didn’t make sense to me. My second grader sometimes can’t even make the right change, let alone start his own eCommerce business.)
The new parameters created a vacuum in the market and something of an online shopping frenzy, causing the raspberry-infused cookie to sell out within hours in the Los Angeles area, Girl Scout officials said. The $6 cookie boxes then began to be resold on eBay and other online gear at astronomical markups.
When I told Cora about the eBay prices, her face screwed up in indignation. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she snorted. “I never had the opportunity to try the cookie. I didn’t even get to hold the box.”
Cora’s troop parent leaders, Nayeli Castillo and Liz Lopez, agreed that it was unrealistic for the troop of six second graders to sell cookies online.
“My daughter doesn’t have a smartphone, how will she share the link?” asked Castillo, whose 7-year-old daughter, Luna, is in the troop. “Some girls are too young to even understand the concept of asking people to buy from them online. She walks away from the experience of selling cookies.”
As a result, the job fell to the parents, mostly mothers, parents of Girl Scout Troop 2329 in Santa Ana, to make the initial sales a reality. Most of us use our smartphones and send mass text messages to family, friends and colleagues. workers with desperate pleas: “Can you support our troop?”
Some attached a photo of their daughter, dressed in her brown vest. Others sent in videos of the Brownie of her doing the best pitch of hers. Between making lunches, dropping out of school, full time jobs, cooking dinner, picking up at school, music lessons, sports (the list goes on), we would sell cookies next door.
The push for increased sales of cookies online was in response to older Girl Scouts telling leaders they wanted to improve their e-commerce skills, said Theresa Edy-Kiene, executive director of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
But why make the Raspberry Rally out of reach for your younger comrades who still want to sell the cookies by hand and in person? Edy-Kiene said the decision was not up to her.
“I wish the girls had the opportunity, like Cora, to get their hands on the box, to taste the cookie, to be able to talk to customers about it. I think that’s great,” Edy-Kiene said.
He also didn’t get a chance to try the Raspberry Rally. “Who knows. Maybe there was an order for 300 boxes and that person is on eBay right now,” Edy-Kiene said. “The behavior is so disappointing.”
But she focused on the positive. Her council, the second largest in the country with 33,000 girls, sold 4.9 million packets of cookies this year. Fundraising represents about 68% of the council’s total budget, she said. Half of the money funds a host of programs, including a leading pop-up program for older girls, camps, and mental health programs.
It’s unclear if the Girl Scouts will continue with online exclusives. Edy-Kiene said there’s always a debrief after cookie season, where Girl Scout executives meet to evaluate the season’s results, feedback and other data to make decisions for the coming year.
Cora spent hours walking through our neighborhood, pulling a red wagon full of boxes of classic Girl Scout cookie varieties. While she was selling, every time someone asked for the new Raspberry Rally cookie, Cora would spin with ease.
“Sorry, we didn’t get any,” he would say, flashing an angelic smile. “But we have Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Adventurefuls, Trefoils and delicious lemonades, they are my favorites.”
Cora just didn’t understand why anyone would pay more than $6 for Raspberry Rally cookies. “What a waste of money,” she laughed herself.
After leaving school, she shared the news with Valerie, her friend and fellow Girl Scout Brownie in her troop. “Yeah, people shouldn’t buy them,” Valerie said, shaking her head. “It’s a waste.”
Girl Scout cookie season is over for us here in Orange and Los Angeles counties, though it continues for others elsewhere. Frankly, after six weeks of boosting sugar and carbs, we were exhausted. In total our troop sold 1,500 boxes of cookies. We get 90 cents per box. The girls will have around $1,350 for their outing and to donate to a local charity.
One Friday night, I had to convince my daughter to go to one of our assigned booths at a Stater Bros. It was cold and rainy, but we met up with Juana Larios and her daughter Maxine.
Between bursts of dancing and mischief, the girls rushed off. “Don’t you want some Girl Scout cookies with that ice cream?” Maxine asked a customer who was leaving the store with a pint of ice cream.
Every time someone bought more than two boxes, we would yell “Yay” in unison.
Two hours later, we had sold all our packages. We were so elated that cookie season was over that we had forgotten about the Raspberry Rally fiasco. Honestly, only one person asked for the gift that night.