Weekend's Girl Scout cookie-tasting was more or less unmanageable from the start. People tend to love the cookies or despise them, for reasons that seem more emotional than epicurean, and the ratings tended to be either very high or very low. Especially low.
The panel was made up of 17 adults, only one of whom was a professional taster, and was heavily weighted by former Girl Scouts. One panelist's score sheet was thrown out as bizarre and another's as colorful but not suitable for a family newspaper.
The tasters were asked to rate each of the eight types of cookie on a scale of 0 to 5, "with 0 representing the worst thing your little brother ever baked and 5 the cookie you dream about when dieting." Appearance, aroma, flavor and texture were scored, with the results averaged for each cookie.
There emerged one clear favorite and one clear loser, with the other results probably too close to have much statistical validity in such a small sample.
What made the affair perhaps unfair to the Scouts and to Little Brownie Bakers was a note to the panelists that we were "particularly interested in how these cookies compare with the Girl Scout cookies you remember from your youth." The tasters may thus have been led into comparing the cookies with rose-colored remembrances of things past rather than the standards they ordinarily apply in the marketplace.
Between mouthfuls of cookies and gulps of the milk supplied as a palate-cleanser, many panelists were telling each other Girl Scout stories and Girl Scout jokes; like Proust's madeleine, the cookies begat memories and associations that tended to divert those present from the business at hand.
One taster, for instance, recalled that although she once sold more cookies than any other girl in Prince George's County, a non-productive but prettier Scout was selected to present flowers to Mamie Eisenhower in front of newsreel cameras. She was bitter then and she is bitter now, and she really dumped on the cookies.
Nevertheless, the results had considerable internal consistency, and also tended to follow the pattern of sales reported by Little Brownie Bakers. The cookies are listed below in their order of finish, with selected comments:
THIN MINTS (2.80) -- Best of the lot... fake, but reminiscent... still as good as 1955... the only decent one... still the winner... used to be mintier. TAGALONGS (2.27) -- Peanut butter plus chocolate plus crunch equals yum... chocolate doesn't taste like chocolate... pretty good... not much here.
SAMOAS (2.10) -- Wickedly, sweetly good... pure junk, but honest... insincere Reese's peanut-butter cup... hairy-looking, breaks apart sensuously.
GRANOLA (2.08) -- Tastes like cereal... needs cream and sugar... your average granola cookie... okay... too heavy on the molasses... bland... ordinary.
TREFOILS (2.00) -- Used to be softer and better-tasting... justifies slamming the door on a little girl... plasitc... bland, vanilla-flavored sugar.
VAN'CHOS (1.99) -- Good lickability, could be chocolatier... hope I ordered some of these... flavorless... can't believe I ordered two boxes of these.
DO-SI-DOS (1.06) -- Can't recognize filling... the worst so far... gag... can't cause