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5 Fascinating Facts About Girl Scout Cookie Names

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Girl Scout Week may be over, but Girl Scout cookie season is still going strong.

The cookies were first sold in 1917. Back then, the scouts baked the cookies themselves and sold them door to door. By the 1920s, they were using a simple sugar cookie recipe, perhaps based on one published in a July 1922 issue of The American Girl magazine. In 1935, the words “Girl Scout Cookies” appeared on the boxes for the first time, and in 1936, the national organization began using commercial bakers. The rest is cookie-selling history.

While you may know your Tagalongs from your Do-si-dos, here are a few things you might not know about the names of Girl Scout cookies.

1. Cookies have different names, depending on who bakes them.

For a while, each Girl Scout council could choose its own baker, and at one point there were 29 different companies making the cookies. To streamline the process, that number went down to four in the late 1970s, and in the 1990s, it decreased even further to two: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers (a division of a company you might have heard of).

You'd think these companies would cooperate and call each cookie by the same name—and you would be wrong. Each company distributes to different areas of the country, each cookie recipe is slightly different, and, each, except for the Thin Mint, has a different name.

That coconutty, caramelly, chocolatey concoction known as the Samoa in the Bay Area is called a Caramel deLite just a stone's throw away in Sacramento. (Why deLite? Perhaps because it has five fewer calories than the Samoa, and one less gram of fat.) If you're in Nebraska, you're eating Peanut Butter Patties. A Windy City resident? You're munching on Tagalongs. Forth Worthians indulge on Peanut Butter Sandwiches while their Dallas neighbors do Do-si-dos. And in New Jersey, the south has Shortbreads while it's Trefoils in the north.

2. Thin Mints go by another name in Canada.

While the Girl Guides of Canada were established two years before the Girl Scouts, they began selling cookies later, in 1927. Past cookie varieties included vanilla crème, maple cream, and shortbread, but nowadays, the Canadian cookie selection is much more streamlined than the Girl Scouts'. In the spring they offer "classic chocolate and vanilla cookies," and in the fall, their version of Thin Mints: Chocolately Mint cookies.

3. Samoa the cookie is named for Samoa the island—maybe.

Samoas, second in sales only to the iconic Thin Mints, were added to the Little Brownie cookie line in 1975. While we know why it’s called the Caramel deLite in some places and Samoa in others, no one seems sure where the name Samoa comes from.

One popular theory is the coconut connection. Of the island Samoa's top exports, number eight is coconut oil while number 15 is coconuts, brazil nuts, and cashews.

A more tenuous idea is that the word Samoa kind of sounds like “some more,” as in, "Give me some more of those delicious coconut thingies." Of course s’more was already taken, so maybe the Girl Scouts and Little Brownie Bakers went with the next best thing.

4. Trefoil is a leafy metaphor for the Girl Scout promise.

A trefoil, in case you didn’t know, is a kind of three-leafed plant—hence the shape of the shortbread cookie with the same name. The word trefoil comes from the Latin trifolium, “three leaf.”

The trefoil is also the emblem of both the Girl Scouts of the U.S. and the Girl Guides of Canada. For the Girl Scouts, the three leaves stand for a three-fold promise: "to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout law." That’s one wholesome cookie.

5. Savannah Smiles is a creepy name for a cookie.

A rather less wholesome back story lies behind the Savannah Smiles cookie—or at least the name. The crisp lemon cookie shaped like a smile was introduced in 2012 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the very first Girl Scouts meeting, which was held in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia.

If the name Savannah Smiles sounds familiar, that's because it was a 1982 family-friendly movie about an unhappy little girl named Savannah who runs away from home, but in the end is happily reunited with her mother. However, the actress who played Savannah, Bridgette Andersen, didn't have such a happy ending; she died of an apparent drug overdose at age 21.

Or you might know Savannah Smiles as the name of a 2007 song by indie band The Stage Names. What was Savannah Smiles the song about? A porn star who went by the stage name of Savannah and committed suicide at 24. If that bums you out, call the cookies by the ABC Bakers' name: Lemonades.

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Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]


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