Girl Scout Cookies have been sold since 1917. Among the many flavors and shapes, there has never been a gluten-free product. That changed this year. The organization will offer two gluten-free cookies in 2019 during the sales season that runs from January through March and kicks off this week.
Girl Scout Cookies come in 12 flavors. The Toffee-tastic or Caramel Chocolate Chip cookies will be marketed as the gluten-free parts of the lineup. The Celiac Disease Foundation describes gluten as “the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, Khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley, and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.” Symptoms of the disease include rashes, stomach problems and a runny nose. Scientist says about 1% of the population has been diagnosed with an adverse reaction to gluten. The most severe set of reactions are grouped as celiac disease. A much more significant portion of the population has gone undiagnosed.
Not all geographic areas where Girl Scout Cookies are sold will have gluten-free versions of the cookies. And the organization says that they will only be available until supplies run out, an indication that the gluten-free part of the stock of cookies will not be replaced.
Girl Scout Cookies are sold by local councils, which are defined by geography. Throughout the sales season, about 200 million cookies are sold. This makes the annual event critical to the funding of the organization. Revenue estimates for total sales are as high as $750 million. Most of the cookies are sold by members of the councils. However, the organization introduced an app to drive sales. In theory, this was to help people who want to buy the cookies but do not live close to one of the councils.
The Girl Scout gluten-free cookies tap into a huge and growing market. Transparency Market Research says that gluten-free food sales will reach $4.8 billion by 2021. The Toffee-tastic or Caramel Chocolate Chip cookies will not only be good for people who have a bad reaction to gluten. They also will be a means for Girl Scouts to reach a substantial market.