Some crave the peanut butter sandwich. Some hanker for thin mints. Still others are partial to shortbread.
Of course we're talking about Girl Scout cookies, the stars of "munch madness" that
peaks each February and lasts until, well, every last delicious crumb is consumed. The annual
cookie sale is the signature fundraiser of the Girl Scouts of America. Since the event's
early commercial success in the 1930s, it has grown into a beloved American tradition — and a colossal undertaking that involves the
manufacture and delivery of billions of cookies.
ABC Bakers, a division of Richmond, Virginia based Interbake Foods LLC, is one of two
commercial bakers licensed to make Girl Scout cookies. This year ABC is making and shipping
76.8 million boxes of cookies in eight delectable varieties. And BDS Worldwide is helping those
cookies get into the hands (and tummies) of consumers across the U.S.
Timing is Critical
The cookies are sold by Girl Scout councils throughout the country. In some areas the
fulfillment begins as early as October or runs as late as May. But the vast majority of councils
take delivery in February, National Girl Scout Cookie Month.
"Our number one concern is making sure the product is delivered when it is needed,"
says Ray Selover, Director, Transportation & Logistics, Interbake Foods. "In this regard I think of BDS Worldwide as an extension of
my department. They even fly to the various locations to oversee distributions. We could
not function as well as we do without their services."
"Delivering cookies to the Girl Scouts for ABC Bakers has become a tradition at BDS,"
says Dan Kelly, President of BDS Worldwide. "We take great pride in ensuring every
distribution we handle meets the standards expected by the Troop Leaders and the bakery."
Perhaps no one has more hands-on experience in the distribution of Girl Scout
cookies than Eileen Schumacher, BDS Worldwide service representative. BDS has
delivered Girl Scout cookies each year since 1968; Eileen has been involved with the effort
since she joined the company 27 years ago.
"This year we are responsible for 1,462,800 cases, or 17,553,600 boxes," says Eileen.
"Timing is critical. The councils give us a delivery window of a specified number of
days, during which we distribute the cookies that were ordered by their troops."
When the cookies come into the BDS warehouse, workers break the bulk packages
and prepare individual orders for delivery. Depending on the size of the order and where
it is being delivered, cases may be loose loaded and delivered on dollies or stacked on pallets
for forklifting. The sizes of deliveries vary. Some councils take fewer than 10,000 cases
while others may receive upwards of 250,000 cases. Destinations can include churches,
schools, fire stations, homes, and community centers. The person receiving
the cookies is usually a volunteer.
"We recognize that these people are giving their time and most likely have limited
capabilities to handle or stack the products," says Eileen. "Our operators work with them to
make sure the goods are placed where it is most convenient for them."
This is another reason Interbake counts on BDS. "The last thing our
customers remember about our service is their contact with the
delivery person," says Ray. "They see that person as an extension of
In some larger markets, BDS conducts a "mega drop" to make it
easy for councils to take delivery on big volumes.
"On two consecutive Saturdays in February we distributed a total
of 60,000 cases, or approximately 40 trailers full, at one location in
Houston," says Eileen. "This saves time for us and for the troops."
What happens if a council needs to order more cookies after their order is delivered?
"Once an initial delivery is complete, a council has up to a month to make additional requests for product," says
Eileen. "If our warehouse is out of a requested variety, we issue an order
to the field stock warehouse. The product is shipped to us and we then deliver as needed."
Improving the Process
When the Girl Scout cookie season is complete, Eileen meets with her
client for an annual evaluation to ensure that BDS and its network
continue to perform to the bakery's standards. "This is our opportunity to
find out if there is anything we can do to improve our services," says Eileen.
"It takes a lot of people pulling together and careful attention to
lots of little details to make sure the cookies arrive according to plan," says
Eileen. "We consider it a privilege to have a hand in this much anticipated
and very worthwhile event."
ABC Bakers is part of Interbake Foods LLC., a Richmond, Virginiabased manufacturer that has
been baking cookies and crackers for 100 years. The company became "Official Girl Scout
Cookie Bakers" in 1939, just two years after the first sale of
commercially baked Girl Scout cookies took place. Today, ABC Bakers supplies about 40 percent
of the Girl Scout councils throughout the United States.
Less than 1/3 of the price consumers pay for Girl Scout
cookies goes to the baker. This amount is far less than the
wholesale price food retailers pay for similar products. This means
that most of the money raised goes to support Girl Scouting.
Cookie sale revenue allows councils to offer Girl Scouting to as many local girls as possible. It
also funds essential expenses such as insurance, property expense, maintenance and repair, program
subsidies, volunteer training, printing and financial aid.
A portion of the money raised during the cookie sale is distributed directly to the troop
selling the cookies where girls decide how it is spent on their plans for the year.
Adapted from the ABC Bakers
web site: http://www.girlscoutcookiesabc.com