If you've cleared your kitchen cabinets in order to prepare for your annual supply of Samoas or Thin Mints, you might be interested in knowing just how much of a dent these cookies will make in your daily calorie, carb, sugar or saturated fat budget. Or rather, which ones you can enjoy with the least "guilt." So we did the analysis for you.
The Savannah Smiles -- crispy lemon wedge cookies dusted with powdered sugar -- rank the slimmest at only 28 calories per cookie. But the Shortbread or Trefoils come pretty close; they have only a couple of more calories and are lowest in sugars, with 1 gram per cookie.
The S'mores cookie (from ABC Bakers), a crispy graham cookie double-dipped in crème icing and coated with chocolate, ranks the highest in calories, sugars and saturated fat, with 90 calories, 8 grams of sugars and 3.5 grams of saturated fat per cookie. (Little Brownie Bakers' version of S'mores has lower numbers for these nutrients.)
Overall, we're not talking about significant differences. All varieties have fewer than 200 calories per serving. The more pressing question to answer is: How many cookies are you likely to eat?
How do Girl Scout cookies compare with other popular cookies? Consider a Do-si-do the peanut butter version of an Oreo. Both have 53 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat per cookie.
Although a distinctly different cookie, a Chips Ahoy is also identical to a Do-si-do in terms of calories, carbs and sugars and has only half a gram more of saturated fat.
The Thanks-a-lot shortbread cookie dipped in rich fudge may make you think of a Milano, and calorie-wise, they're similar, though a Thanks-a-lot is more "generous," with 15 more calories. And nothing on the Girl Scout cookie menu really compares to a Nilla Wafer, which ranks low in calories among popular cookies, at 17.5 calories per wafer.
Another nutritional note of interest: The Thin Mint, Peanut Butter Patties, Lemonade and Thanks-a-lot cookies are vegan, and the Toffee-tastic (made with rice flour) and Trios cookies (made with gluten free whole grain oats) are gluten-free.
Advice for cookie monsters
One way of coping with cookie calories is not so much about counting them but about how much exercise you'll need in order to burn them off.
Well, it takes about a half-hour of exercise to burn off four Thin Mints; 17 minutes of jogging to burn two Peanut Butter Patties; 16 minutes of push-ups, pull-ups or sit-ups to burn two Samoas; and 20 minutes of jumping rope to burn off two of the higher-calorie S'mores. Note that our numbers are based on a person weighing 150 pounds. (If you weigh more, you burn more, and fewer minutes are required.)
Here are some more tips on controlling cookie calories:
- Keep cookies out of sight. Don't leave them out on the counter so you're tempted.
- Portion them into small bags according to serving sizes.
- Don't mindlessly nibble on them, especially late at night in front of the TV. If you haven't pre-portioned them, reach for the box once, count out a serving, and eat them consciously while savoring each bite.
- Brush your teeth or rinse with mouthwash when you're finished. It can help curb cravings.
- Freeze some of them to enjoy at a later date. (Thin Mints are particularly good for freezing, sources say.)
- Spread the Scouts' mission by giving a box to a friend, relative, doorman or homeless shelter.
Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist