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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

41

Tagalongs vs. Peanut Butter Patties: The Great Girl Scout Cookie Regional Naming Rift

A Girl Scout proudly displaying her correctly named cookies.

If you live in certain parts of the US, your yearly Girl Scout Cookies have one set of names, and if you live in certain other parts of the US, they have another. This rift exists because two separate companies with two separate distribution deals make Girl Scout cookies from the same recipes: Little Brownie Bakers, and ABC Smart Cookies.

Here, for example, is what LBB calls their chocolate/peanut butter cookies: Tagalongs. Great name—friendly, playful, lends a pleasant sense memory to thoughts about the Philippine language Tagalog. Here is what ABC calls the same cookie: Peanut Butter Patties. That is a bad name for a cookie. No one wants to eat just a patty of anything. No one wants to even think about just a patty of anything.

The Nutter-Butter-style cookies that LBB calls Do-si-dos? To ABC, those are Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Now, I'm a fan of peanut butter sandwiches. I ate one for lunch today. But that sandwich was not a cookie. You can't take the name of a sandwich and give it to a cookie. It will sow confusion among the people, about what is a sandwich and what is a cookie.

My personal favorites during Girl-Scout-cookie season are the coconut/fudge beauties LBB calls Samoas. I don't know why they're called that—maybe because they grow a lot of coconuts in Samoa, or maybe because when you eat one you always want samoa. Either way, I'm cool. Meanwhile, the barbarians at ABC refer to these cookies as Caramel deLites. Caramel is not the defining feature of a Samoa. Coconut is the defining feature of a Samoa. If anything, they should be called Coconut deLites. But even then, even then, why is "deLites" spelled and capitalized that way? The cookies are not low in fat or sugar, nor are they descended from Belgian nobles. It makes no sense.

Things get worse.

There are a few types of cookies that only ABC makes. One such cookie is called Thanks-A-Lot. Thanks-A-Lots are, according to Wikipedia, "shortbread cookie[s] dipped in chocolate with a thank you message," which allow you to show gratitude to someone in the most sarcastic way imaginable. "Ugh, you wrote me a letter of recommendation. Thanks-A-Lot. Here, eat these shitty cookies." There is, for the record, a totally different flavor of cookie from LBB called Thank You Berry Munch. Those don't have thank-you messages on them, but they'd probably be better gifts, because you can't be sarcastic while making two terrible puns in a row. You can only be very earnest and endearing.Thin Mints and ?????

What we've learned so far is that ABC has demonstrated an impressive amount of determination to ruin the good name of Girl Scout Cookies. But I'm sorry to tell you we've arrived at an issue that goes deeper than mere names. After all, a Tagalong by any other name still tastes as sweet, as long as it's not called a Peanut Butter Patty and you're not thinking too hard about the concept of a Peanut Butter Patty. But ABC had to take it a step further. ABC had to create Cranberry Citrus Crisps.

What, you ask, are Cranberry Citrus Crisps? In ABC's own words written on its own website, they're "crispy cookie[s], made with whole grain, full of tangy cranberry bits and zesty citrus flavor." Everything after the word "cookie" directly contradicts the definition of a cookie. Cookies are sweet and buttery. They are not "zesty," and they're certainly not "tangy." They're made of fat and sugar, not "whole grain."

A zesty, tangy, whole-grain item may be an appropriate snack at certain points in one's life, but it is not a cookie, and calling it by that name dishonors every baker, grandma, and welcoming neighbor who's ever mixed semisweet chocolate chips into a bowl of dough. There may be some liberties that can be taken with the cookie medium, but there is also a line that mustn't be crossed, and ABC has vaulted over that line like a confectionery Evil Knievel—emphasis on the "evil." To market a monstrosity, a perversion, like the Cranberry Citrus Crisp as a Girl Scout cookie—one of the highest forms of store-bought cookie!—is to spit in the flour-speckled eye of he who baked us all: God himself.

Also ABC calls them Shortbreads instead of Trefoils, which is boring.

[Image credits: 1, 2]



41 Comments / Post A Comment

guenna

wrong. the cutesy names are meaningless and therefore way worse. you can tell by the fact that thin mints are thin mints everywhere. peanut butter patties and shortbreads FOREVER.

Lolren

@guenna SERIOUSLY. No guessing in what region the author grew up...

Lauren_O'Neal

@Lolren California, baby! And then I moved to Texas and had to eat "Caramel deLites" for three years.

shantasybaby

@guenna FYI Texas is not a monolith in this department- I grew up in Dallas county, happily eating Samoas and Tagalongs and then moved to Tarrant county next door and suddenly they were Peanut Butter Patties and Caramel deLites and went basically insane with rage. It's quite silly the things we can get so irrationally attached to.

Lauren_O'Neal

@shantasybaby I was in Austin, which is clearly a godless wasteland compared to Dallas WHAT AM I SAYING WHAT HAVE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES DONE TO ME

Heather Funk

Regional bakeries! That makes so much sense! I lived in Upstate NY for GS Cookie season last year and thought they changed all the cookie names to be more 21st Century or something. Now I'm back in my home state and we have Trefoils! Savannah Smiles forever btw.

kateek

@Heather Funk I didn't realize it was two different bakeries. Growing up in Houston in the 80's, I sold Tagalongs and Samoas. Sometime in the 90's, all the names changed, and then only recently switched back. I figured it was some sort of rebranding and re-rebranding move.

eiffeldesigns

I grew up in the Denver area which is serviced by LBB and spent many years selling Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Trefoils, and the disgusting Samoas. I was quite confused when I moved to Boston ten years ago and asked for a box of Tagalongs only to get confused looks from the girls. ABC is the worst.

stonefruit

@eiffeldesigns Oh thank G-d, someone else hates Samoas. (Although, much respect to the GSUSA for marketing them as a "cookie" when they are plainly just candy.)

Lily Rowan

@eiffeldesigns (a) Samoas are the best, and (b) the Eastern Mass GS organization must have switched bakers some time between 20 and 10 years ago, because I definitely grew up with Samosas, Tagalongs, etc.

large__marge

RIP Lemon Pastry Cremes

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@large__marge Mmm! Sounds zesty and tangy!

bananalise

@large__marge WORD

Jinxie

@large__marge I see their ice cream all over the dang place now, so there's a not insignificant chance that wherever you are, you can get your hands on Three Twins ice cream. If that is so, get the Lemon Cookie flavor. It tastes JUST like those Lemon Pastry Cremes but better, if such a thing were possible.

Blushingflwr

But Thin Mints are Thin Mints everywhere, which is as it should be, because Thin Mints are the only GS Cookies worth $4/box.

stonefruit

@Blushingflwr Oh dear, they're up to $6 here. Hence why I only eat them when a coworker brings them in.

eiffeldesigns

@stonefruit Dear lord, where on earth do you live? I'm in spendy-spendy Boston and they are only $4.00.

troubleminx

@Blushingflwr @eiffeldesigns $3 in rural Tennessee (according to my parents, whose stash I mooched off this year)! I knew there had to be something good about living here.

stonefruit

@eiffeldesigns I'm in San Francisco, and I was wrong - our local chapter raised the price to $5, not $6. Still too much, though! :(

kellyography

@Blushingflwr I bought a couple boxes outside BART in the East Bay last week and they were $5, too - but so worth it. Would I pay $6/box? Maaayyyybe. When I buy them through my mom's friends' kids in St. Louis, they are only $3/box!

mistakeshavebeenmade

@Blushingflwr: Thin Mints are the only cookie whose trademark is held by GSUSA instead of one of the bakers. But also, yes, the best. ;-)

troubleminx

The ABC names are so utilitarian! If I want snacks that are given slightly unappetizing names that just describe what the thing looks like, I have Little Debbie for that. Breakdown of what I'm paying for when I buy Girl Scout cookies: 1/3 delicious cookies, 1/3 great cause, 1/3 whimsy/nostalgia. ABC just doesn't cut it on that last one.

pagooey

Does anyone else remember when GS tried to go "healthy" by adding some boxes of terrible sesame-ish crackers to the mix? (Or am I theoldestpersononthissite, gah...) We got stuck with a crate of those suckers, had 'em crushed up in meatloaves, etc. for YEARS. West coast, so I'm guessing they were an LBB misstep...?

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

Now, Lauren, don't tell me you don't believe in sandwich cookies! I'm Canadian so I know nothing about Girl Scout cookies as they exist in America, but I know that sandwich cookies are a thing everywhere on this continent. They are a genre of cookie. Like Oreos, and Fudgee-Os, etc.

Lauren_O'Neal

@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) But ABC does not call them "Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies." It calls them "Peanut Butter Sandwiches." A peanut butter sandwich is already a common non-cookie food item.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Lauren_O'Neal I guess I figured it would be like a context thing? You know, like you're aware that you're buying cookies, so "peanut butter cookie" = peanut butter cookie sandwich. You know, it's not like a Girl Scout rings your doorbell and is like "Prime Rib? Monte Carlo potato? Deviled egg?"

But my brain works in weird ways.

Lauren_O'Neal

@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) No, your brain is fine, I'm exaggerating for the sake of the post. :)

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Lauren_O'Neal Now I'm thinking it would be pretty great to answer my door and it's someone who offers to make me a peanut butter sandwich on the spot. Hop to it, Girl Scouts of America!

redridinghoodrat

None of this matters to me, relative to the fact that they've changed their recipes (cheaper? healthier? Probably cheaper.) and they all taste like pale shadows of their former glory.

dee
dee

There is another twist, too! The two bakeries actually use different recipes. I grew up in ABC territory and, as a person who doesn't eat eggs/dairy, I had several options, including the excellent and totally acceptably named peanut-butter patties. Now, however, I live under the dark reign of LBB, and I have only two options and one of them is the shitty lemon kind that tastes like day-old frosting sandwiched between discs of sweetened waxed paper. (I do, however, concur that the new "healthy" cookies are just inappropriate.)

mel!

But ABC makes 4 vegan cookies (including Thin Mints!), so they win! Both bakeries supply to California, so I have to look out for girls selling the ones without the silly names.

DDay

My region just switched from LBB to ABC this year and I'm taking it pretty hard. You can't switch my tagalongs up on me after a 20+ year relationship! The cookies don't taste the same, IMO they are now like a decent cookie you can get anywhere instead of something special.

Gulfie

A VERY IMPORTANT ARTICLE. *applause*

rachelrachel

Could not be a more relevant article right now. My co-worker just brought me my cookie order and to my chagrin, I ordered Tagalongs because I thought that meant Peanut Butter Sandwiches, but guys, they are Peanut Butter Patties instead.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

America problems = arguing over the names of many, many kinds of Girl Scout cookies.
Canada problems = there are only two kinds of Girl Guide cookies, each only available at a specific time of year, and less and less girls are in Girl Guides thus reducing their availability and increasing their prices, but it doesn't matter because they changed cookie producers a few years ago and now they don't taste the same.

I just really miss the old vanilla sandwich cookies.

idrathernot

I was under the impression that Samoas had a name change because they were named after an "exotic" island and it was seen as cultural appropriation.

Lauren_O'Neal

@idrathernot Nah, I'm looking at a box of Samoas right now.

Luke Dani Blue@facebook

Ok, Lauren. Let me explain something to you about the Midwest, aka the HEART of girl scout country: Midwesterners are highly suspicious of fancy, which includes most adjectives, incomprehensible allusions and words that aren't really words. Trefoil? Oh, *hell* no. Samoas? Why is my cookie named after a military base??* Now, Peanut Butter Sandwich, there's a good, honest, simple name. The kind of name your grandmother might come up with after an exhausting day of reaping hay/slaughtering chickens/baking dessert for you and your grateful siblings. After hours of hard labor, you think you feel like square dancing? Nuh-uh. You feel like eating two sugar slabs with a layer of peanut butter in between. That's what.

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