Girl Scout cookies have never been just about the sweets, and now the organization is wearing its message on its sleeves, and its products.

This season, a new flavor has joined the lineup of classic confections hawked by those badge-collecting kiddos. They’re called Lemon-Ups, and they feature a crisp, citrus-imbued flavor and positive messages pressed into their tops. “I am a risk-taker,” reads one. “I am a leader,” proclaims another.

The Scouting organization debuted the new cookie along with a redesign in the packaging for its entire lineup of familiar names, such as Samoas, Tagalongs and Thin Mints. The packaging now feature photos of Girl Scouts in action, the organization says, doing things like “adventure-packed camping and canoeing, to exploring space science and designing robots, to taking action to improve their communities.” Those changes reflect the organization’s broadening focus in recent years from traditional camping and crafts into more modern concerns such as leadership, technology and social issues.


(Girl Scouts of the USA)

The Lemon-Ups are available in limited markets and replace the retiring Savannah Smiles, another lemon-flavored offering that also featured a confectioners’ sugar dusting. It joins the existing Lemonades, which are shortbread cookies sandwiching a lemony icing. Which naturally leads us to a question that’s maybe beside the point: Are they any good?

We tried a bag at the office and the consensus was … well, let’s just say that there’s no need to chisel a new spot in the Mt. Rushmore of Girl Scout cookies. The golden-colored discs made us smile with their affirmations, but the message was better than the messenger, which delivered a decidedly underwhelming dose of lemon. “Pretty generic,” said one taster. “Like a grocery store cookie,” volunteered another. (And these folks are avowed Girl Scout cookie fans, each with their own favorite, so it’s not like there’s pastry snobbery at work in their evaluations.)

The biscuit-like consistency and weak citrus notes weren’t enough to distinguish it from its snappier shortbread sister, the classic Trefoil. Which means when you pick a cookie that proclaims, “I am strong,” you should take that as a personal compliment and not a promise about the treat you’re about to snarf.

Quibbles aside, the organization says that the girls selling these confectioneries could be the business tycoons, tech titans and leaders we’ll see in a few years. “Girls learn about entrepreneurship as they run their own cookie businesses,” CEO Sylvia Acevedo wrote in a news release. “The important business and financial literacy skills girls learn through the program are proven to build their leadership skills and position them for success in the future.”

This year, prices for many cookie boxes went up $1, to $5. Prices vary nationally, according to the organization, and you can locate a local booth to buy them using their website’s cookie finder (in case you haven’t already been given the hard sell by a child in a green vest). Cookies are sold at different times depending on your local council, but many start in January.

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