JOPLIN, Mo. —
There are a few strategies when it comes to eating Girl Scout cookies as quickly as possible.
Some competitors at Saturday’s Cookie Crunch-Off at Missouri Southern State University soaked the cookies in milk. A few crumbled them into a bowl and poured the crumbs into their mouths. Others just ate each cookie whole.
More than 250 Girl Scouts gathered for the event that kicks off this year’s cookie sale.
The afternoon began with Cookie University — a workshop designed to hone sales and customer service skills — and ended with the cookie-eating contest.
Several teams recruited by local organizations and businesses lined up behind a table filled with cookies, milk and water, and each member had to chow down eight cookies.
Before the contest began, the rules were announced: Each participant could only drink one small carton of milk and cup of water, and participants had to prove their mouths were empty after eating the cookies. The first team to finish would be the winner.
Team General Mills participated in the contest for the first time Saturday and took home the trophy. Ron Gilbert led his team and said he had just one thing on his mind during the contest: Don’t choke.
Gilbert, of Joplin, was the last of his four-man team to eat the cookies. He didn’t have a specific plan, and at the end, he had to scoop the crumbs into a bowl and prove all of the cookies were gone.
“We came out here just to have some fun,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t know what to expect.”
Gilbert, who buys Girl Scout cookies every year, said he’ll be back for the competition next year.
“We have to now,” he said. “We have something to prove.”
Earlier in the afternoon, the Girl Scouts, ages 5 to 18, were divided into groups and participated in programs that helped them earn their 2014 Cookie Pin and financial and sales badges.
The Girl Scouts partnered with MSSU business students to design the programs that helped younger age groups learn how to count and manage money. Older Scouts, who were more experienced cookie sellers, attended a class that taught them how to use online marketing tools.
Lisa Nelson, an adult volunteer, said it was the first time leaders organized Cookie University but that there is always an annual rally.
“One of the biggest things for the girls is the chance to get together, meet each other and get excited about the sale,” Nelson said. “And I think they clearly got excited. It helps them set goals and really start their sale with a goal in mind.”
Ashton Baker, 13, of Carl Junction, has been a longtime Girl Scout. During a program for senior Scouts, Baker learned how to email customers who might live too far away to reach in person.
“It’s easier because people can’t always travel,” Baker said.
Baker said taking trips with her Girl Scout troop keeps her motivated to sell as many cookies as she can.
She plans to go to college, and Baker said the community service hours she earns by being in the Girl Scouts will look good on her college resume.
Five-year-old Elizabeth Vice, of Duenweg, who has been a Girl Scout since September, already has her cooking-selling strategy: “You just ask what’s their favorite flavor.”