Girl Scout Cookie Knockoffs (and where you can get the real thing)

I had plans for this post long before the pandemic dominated headlines and closed Girl Scout Cookie booths prematurely.  How does the coronavirus and subsequent shutdowns affect cookies? Well, aside from those sweet little businesswomen trading cookies for cash (or card; it is 2020) having to take their booths down, the knockoff cookies I review here a little harder to get your hands on. If you’re utilizing the Walmart grocery pick-up service, you just have to search for their generic cookie name. But the other store with knockoff Girl Scout cookies is Aldi, and as far as I know, they don’t offer a curbside pickup service. If that’s your weekly grocery store run you can certainly add these to your list, but even discount wannabe Girl Scout cookies shouldn’t have you breaking social distancing guidelines.

Being a woman of science, when I learned there were two stores offering knockoff Girl Scout cookies for a fraction of that painful $4 a box sticker price I knew I had to conduct a thorough experiment and compare each of these imposters with the real deal. So I set off and gathered the original Girl Scout cookies, the Walmart version, and the Aldi version.

The three cookie types being compared are Samoas, Tagalongs, and Thin Mints. 

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It was a lot of hard work and cookie taste testing, but the experiment is complete. Here are the results. Brace yourselves: I was shocked.

Samoas

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These coconutty caramel goodies are available from the Girl Scouts, Aldi (Benton’s brand), and Walmart (Great Value brand).

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Hypothesis: They look so similar, with just minor size differences. But how can anything beat the Girl Scouts?

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Girl Scouts Samoas: $4  A light coconut flavor paired with strong caramel flavors and just the right hint of chocolate; a slim shape balances the flavors.

Great Value Caramel, Coconut, and Fudge Cookies: $1.28 These cookies are bigger and chewier, with more equal coconut, caramel, and chocolate flavors.

Aldi’s Benton’s Caramel Coconut Fudge: $1.43 These have the strongest coconut flavor, with a crisper cookie underlaying the toppings. These taste the most similar to the original Girl Scout Cookies.

Results: The original Girl Scout cookies have the best balance, but Great Value offers the best value: a bigger cookie for the cheapest price. If I had to choose between the two knockoffs, Benton’s tastes the most like the originals and at only a 15 cents more per package is totally worth it.

Tagalongs

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Whew, this was tough. Growing up, my dad always ate most of the Samoas but the Tagalongs and Thin Mints were essentially the cause of war between my mom, my sister, and myself. We all three are OBSESSED, and when I learned of the potential for eating Tagalongs outside of March I was beyond excited. So how do generic Tagalongs measure up?

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Hypothesis:  This cookie is pure heaven and my childhood, all wrapped up in a cookie. I am not sure how the others can compare, which concerns me as I want my scientific study to not be invalidated by my own existing preconceptions. We shall see.

Girl Scout Tagalongs: $4  These classics offer a thin, crunch cookie topped with a thick dollop of peanut butter, and then the whole thing is dunked into a thick layer of chocolate. The inner cookie is thin and crunchy, and appears to be some kind of shortbread or white cookie. The whole cookie is crunchier than I remember, with less peanut butter and chocolate than the competition. Yet the balance between crunchy cookie, chewy peanut butter, and smooth chocolate is impeccable. This is the smallest of the three.

Great Value Fudge Covered Peanut Butter Filled Cookies: $0.98  This price has me like whoah, and it is also the largest of the cookies. Shockingly, this inner cookie is chocolate! Yet it tastes the same…if not better (GASP)….than Tagalongs. Another main difference is the presence of more peanut butter. It’s like if a Reese’s and a cookie had a baby. The sugar may be getting to me.

Aldi’s Benton’s Peanut Butter Filled Cookies $1.48 Aldi also replaced the inner cookie with a chocolate one. The crunch is still there, like with Great Value, but softened by the extra peanut butter (which I am completely here for). There is more of a chocolate flavor, and it is only slightly smaller than the Great Value contender.

Results: Gulp. The Aldi and Great Value generic versions are quite possibly identical, and both surpass the Tagalong. I can’t believe I just said that. I just crushed my childhood.

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Thin Mints

This is where it gets real for many of you. Thin Mints are the bestselling Girl Scout cookie. My local Aldi did not offer a generic version of Thin Mints, but Walmart did, so this category only has two contenders. In one corner, the OG Girl Scout Thin Mints. In the other, the Great Value Fudge Mint cookies. Here we go.

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Hypothesis: Shortly after my second child’s birth I had to venture into a Walgreens or CVS (they’re the same place in my head), and I stumbled upon a wannabe Thin Mint that seriously helped in my recovery from childbirth. But it was nearly $4 a box and out of my way, so I never ventured back (plus I don’t know if it was Walgreens or CVS). So I know a good knockoff is out there. The question is: is this it?

Girl Scout Thin Mints: $4 These perfectly round cookies offer a crunchy coated with minty, fudgy goodness that will absolutely save your life when one is miraculously pulled from the freezer after a particularly bad scraped knee. Wait, was that just my childhood? Surely not. There is nothing better in the midst of a hot, humid summer than a frozen Thin Mint. It’s true. THIS IS SCIENCE.

Great Value Fudge Mint: $0.98 Can something that costs less than a dollar greatly improve your life? It can if its these cookies. But in science-y terms, these scalloped edge sweets have a slightly stronger mint flavor. That’s it. 

Results: For all intents and purposes, without a close inspection, they taste identical. THIS IS MAGIC. Ahem, I mean science.

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There you have it. Science has shown that both Aldi and Walmart offer superb knockoffs of our favorite Girl Scout cookies. Next time you get a hankering in June for a frozen Thin Mint, or crave the comfort of a fudge covered, peanut butter filled treat in November, you only have to go to Aldi or Walmart. Or do grocery pickup, because, you know, the plague.

I still plan on supporting the Girl Scouts each year by purchasing these willpower crushing delicacies, because based on what I know of the work the Girl Scouts do, it’s an inclusive organization worth supporting. Right now, many troops are hurting. Safer at home and social distancing have required them to close down their annual booths, and many still have a surplus of cookies to sell. Visittheir website to learn how you can order online from a local troop, and they can either ship to you or you can donate cookies to nursing homes or deployed military members.

As you can see, we take cookies seriously around here. What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?

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