$200 a box? Why it got so hard to find Raspberry Rally Girl Scout cookies
Did you hear about the elusive new Girl Scout cookie, the Raspberry Rally?
This year was my daughter’s first as a Girl Scout and her first time peddling cookies to neighbors, friends and complete strangers. Initially, Cora, 8, was stoked to put on her Brownie vest and pull her red wagon, stacked precariously high with $6 boxes of treats, around our Santa Ana neighborhood.
Like a lot of people, we were excited about the new cookie — but we never actually got to see any Raspberry Rally cookies or taste them. And we were puzzled and annoyed when we found out 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 started when the Girl Scouts decided to try something new with its annual cookie sale. For the first time, a new cookie flavor was sold as an online exclusive. The organization reasoned that the move would help Girl Scouts learn online and e-commerce business skills. Bucking tradition, Girl Scouts would not be getting their hands on any Raspberry Rally cookies to sell at booths or door-to-door.
Instead, girls were encouraged to share a link with buyers who could then purchase online and have the delectable raspberry-infused treats shipped, at an extra cost, directly to their homes. (This didn’t make sense to me. My second-grader sometimes can’t even make correct change, let alone start her own e-commerce business.)
One man’s opinion on the best (and worst) Girl Scout cookies available.
The new parameters created a vacuum in the market and something of a buying frenzy online, causing the raspberry-infused cookie to sell out within hours in the Los Angeles area, Girl Scouts officials said. The $6 cookie boxes then started reselling on eBay and other online outfits at astronomical markups.
When I told Cora about the eBay prices, her face crumpled with indignation. “You’ve got to be joking,” she huffed. “I never got the chance to taste the cookie. I never even got to hold the box.”
Cora’s troop leader moms, Nayeli Castillo and Liz Lopez, agreed it was unrealistic for the troop — composed of six second-graders — to sell cookies online.
“My daughter doesn’t have a smartphone; how is she going to share the link?” asked Castillo, whose 7-year-old, Luna, is in the troop. “Some girls are too young to even understand the concept of asking people to buy from them online. It takes away from the experience of them selling cookies.”
As a result, the work fell on the parents — mostly mothers — of Girl Scout Troop 2329 in Santa Ana to make the initial sales happen. Most of us took to our smartphones, launching mass texts to family, friends and co-workers with desperate pleas: “Can you support our troop?”
Some attached a photo of their daughter, clad in her brown vest. Others dispatched videos of their Brownie making her best pitch. In between making lunches, school dropoffs, full-time jobs, making dinner, school pickups, music lessons, sports (the list goes on), we hawked cookies on the side.
The push for more online cookie selling was in response to older Girl Scouts who told leaders they wanted to sharpen their e-commerce skills, said Theresa Edy-Kiene, chief executive of Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
But why make the Raspberry Rally out of reach to their younger comrades who may still want to sell the cookies in hand and in person? Edy-Kiene said the decision wasn’t up to her.
“I do wish that girls had the opportunity, like Cora, to put her 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.
She didn’t get a chance to taste the Raspberry Rally either. “Who knows. Maybe there was an order for 300 cases 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 nation with 33,000 girls, sold 4.9 million packages of cookies this year. The fundraiser makes up about 68% of the council’s total budget, she said. Half of the money funds a host of programs, including an emerging leader program for older girls, camp and mental health programs.
It’s unclear whether the Girl Scouts will continue with online exclusives. Edy-Kiene said there is always a debrief after cookie season, for which Girl Scouts executives gather to survey results, feedback and other data from the season to make decisions for next year.
Cora spent hours walking our neighborhood, pulling a red wagon stacked high with boxes of the classic Girl Scout cookie varieties. While out selling, whenever someone asked for the new Raspberry Rally cookie, Cora pivoted with ease.
“Sorry, we didn’t get any,” she’d say and flash a cherubic grin. “But we do have Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Adventurefuls, Trefoils and delicious Lemonades — they’re my favorite.”
Cora just didn’t understand why anyone would pay more than $6 for Raspberry Rally cookies. “What a waste of money,” she snickered.
After school dropoff, 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 wasteful.”
Girl Scout cookies are made by two different bakers.
The 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 pushing sugar and carbs, we were burnt out. In total our troop sold 1,500 boxes of cookies. We get 90 cents per box. The girls will have about $1,350 for an outing and to donate to a local charity.
One Friday evening I had to convince my daughter to go to one of our assigned booths at a Stater Bros. It was cold and raining, but we rallied with Juana Larios and her daughter Maxine.
Between spurts of dancing and horsing around, the girls hustled. “Don’t you want some Girl Scout cookies with that ice cream?” Maxine asked one customer exiting the store with a pint of gelato.
Whenever someone bought more than two boxes, we yelled out “Yay” in unison.
Two hours later, we’d sold all our packages. We were so elated that we’d wrapped up cookie season that we’d forgotten all about the Raspberry Rally fiasco. Honestly, only one person asked for the treat that evening.
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