Girl Scout takes on the mantle of truth in advertising

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Of all the things a little girl can aspire to be, 11-year-old Charlotte McCourt of South Orange, New Jersey, says the most important is to be truthful. “Yes, it’s like a core feeling,” Charlotte said. “Because if you’re not honest, then what are you?” Charlotte says the first eight words of the Girl Scout law are: “I will do my best to be honest.” So when it came time to peddle her Girl Scout cookies this year, she decided to tell her customers the whole truth. In a letter to one customer that went viral on the internet, she wrote, “The Girl Scout Organization can sometimes use false advertisement.” She then graded the cookies. She gave the Do-si-do a 5 for its “unoriginal bland flavor.” Charlotte saved most of her venom for the dreaded Toffee-tastic. She gave it a 1 for being “A bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland. It is as flavorless as dirt,” she wrote. “My sister and I threw out the box. Like, we tried everything. We tried dunking it in tea. We tried dunking it in hot chocolate. It was just gross,” she said. As you might expect, brutal honesty like that can have a dramatic impact on sales. Charlotte was hoping to sell 300 boxes this year, but she got nowhere near that. Nowhere near. When we visited last week she had already sold more than 23,000 boxes -- a Girl Scout record. How does she explain it? “Truth in advertising,” Charlotte said. Apparently honesty has become such an aberration, the truth so sadly missed, that when all these people read Charlotte’s letter they felt compelled to support her. “I sold thousands of Samoas and thousands of Thin Mints,” she said. Any Toffee-tastics? “To my grandmother.” It was before Charlotte wrote the letter. “So then she gave them to her friend who … has a gluten allergy.” So there is your hope, America: That even in a world of fake news and Continue Reading

Celebrities who were Girl Scouts

Abigail Breslin and Susan Lucci have more than just acting chops in common. Before these celebrities made it big, they pledged "to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law." In honor of National Girl Scouts Day on March 12, see which other celebrities pledged the same promise. Taylor Swift Taylor Swift was raised in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, before moving to Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 14 to pursue a career. The singer (born Dec. 13, 1989) pledged to live by the Girl Scout Law. Gwyneth Paltrow Gwyneth Paltrow was born in Los Angeles, but moved to New York City by the age of 11. The actress and GOOP founder (born Sept. 27, 1972) was once a little girl who "discover[ed] the fun, friendship, and power of girls together." Susan Lucci Susan Lucci was born in Scarsdale and raised in Garden City. The "All My Children" actress (born Dec. 23, 1946) once was trading "SWAPS" (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) tokens with other Girl Scouts. Abigail Breslin Actress Abigail Breslin (born April 14, 1996, and raised in New York City) once was selling boxes of Samoas and Thin Mints, among other Girl Scout cookies. Dionne Warwick Dionne Warwick grew up in East Orange, New Jersey, before heading to college in Hartford, Connecticut where she pursued her passion for music, splitting her time between there and New York City. The recording artist (born Dec. 12, 1940) took the oath to be "friendly and helpful." Katie Couric Journalist Katie Couric (born Jan. 7, 1957, and raised in Arlington, Virginia) was one of the young girls who believed could "change the world" as a Girl Scout. Martha Stewart Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart (born Aug. 3, 1941, and raised in Nutley, New Jersey) is a Girl Scout alumna. Mariah Carey Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970, and hailing from Greenlawn) took the oath to "do a good turn daily" as a Girl Scout. Carrie Fisher Actress Carrie Fisher (born Oct. 21, 1956, Continue Reading

Meet Tennessee’s first-ever Girl Scout troop for homeless girls

​​​​ For Nevaeh Mobley, it often wasn't safe to play outside.Even as her parents sometimes sat with the door open at night, letting in the fresh air at their long-term hotel room rental, they wouldn't let Nevaeh or her brother on the threshold."The kids could not go outside after dark," dad Carlos Mobley Sr. said. "Because of all the unsavory extra-curricular activities going on. I didn't want it around my kids."For four years, the family of four shared a single hotel room in the Hermitage Inn with two double beds, a small fridge and a bathroom.They pawned TVs, wedding rings, a couple of gaming systems from better times in order to pay for the hotel at first. Later, they found other ways.They brought in a crock pot and a deep fryer for family meals. They did their best to make their situation feel secure. But nighttime felt isolating for the kids, and — with gunshots and drug deals on the other side of that door — at times, frightening.Things needed to change.A little more than a year ago, it did. The Mobley family moved into Safe Haven Family Shelter where they found the safety and support systems they needed, and an opportunity they never expected — a chance for Nevaeh to become part of Tennessee's first-ever Girl Scout troop for homeless girls.All of the members of Nashville's Troop 6000 live or once lived at Safe Haven, a small housing unit on the south side of the city that provides a temporary home for families in need.The troop is modeled after a similar troop launched earlier this year in New York City. It is one of just a handful across the country.Through the patch-earning and cookie-selling tradition, Troop 6000 offers a consistent place in an often unsettled situation, a spot for the girls to go without worry for a little while."Our past lifestyles are kind of rough and ragged," Nevaeh's mom, Debra Stewart said. But, Nevaeh’s father adds, Continue Reading

Just saying: Grocery store knockoffs of Girl Scout cookies are way cheaper

This year marks a Girl Scout Cookie centennial, and if we’ve learned anything in 100 yum-tastic years, it is that Thin Mints taste better after a chill in the freezer. Way better. We’ve also come to know that if you don’t buy now from Scouts — or, more likely, moms and dads who aren’t above cookie-shaming you into spending around $5 bucks a box — you’re out of luck. And, finally, we realize that if you do place your order, you’ll likely polish the whole haul off in days — even though you vowed to make the boxes last the whole year. Yeah, right. Now what? Relax, that’s what. You can buy GS Cookie clones all year long at local grocery stores — and for about half the price, no less. Keebler Grasshopper mint and fudge cookies ($2.69) are Thin Mint almost-twins. Moreover, Keebler runs Little Brownie Bakers — which, along with ABC Bakers, makes Girl Scout Cookies. Need more? At your neighborhood Aldi, Benton’s Peanut Butter Filled Fudge cookies ($1.49) tickle the tongue with a Tagalong fix, while Caramel Coconut Fudge Filled cookies ($1.89) pass for Samoas. No, we’re not encouraging you not to support the enterprising GS Cookie drives. Anything but, since the dough raised supports education and adventure for 2.7 million little ladies. These are options. Hey, part of the Girl Scout Law is to “use resources wisely.” Done. Continue Reading

Girl Scouts Boosting Sales By Setting Up Outside Pot Shops

Some Girl Scouts in California and Colorado are reportedly capitalizing on the laws of supply and demand (and the munchies). According to some reports, more and more parents are having their kids sell cookies outside medical marijuana shops. Starnes: Why I'm Not Buying Girl Scout Cookies This Year Welfare for Weed: Colorado Allows EBT Withdrawals at Pot Shops Some scouts in front of a San Francisco dispensary called The Green Cross sold out of cookies in 45 minutes and had to call for more earlier this week. A mother of one of those scouts told the East Bay Express that her daughter has been employing this strategy for three years now. She said the sales were far better outside the pot shop than outside a grocery store. On The Real Story this afternoon, Gretchen sat down with her all-male panel to discuss this apparent stroke of genius. Matt McCall called it basic capitalism, pointing out that when people stumble out of a city bar at 2am, there's usually a burrito or other food truck waiting for them. Woman Gives Kids Fat Letters Instead of Halloween Candy Comedian Pete Dominick thinks Americans should be more worried about becoming hooked on Samoas, Thin Mints or Tagalongs, than marijuana. "I've smoked marijuana and I've had Girl Scout cookies and only one keeps me coming back," he said, before getting in a plug for his own daughter's cookie-selling effort. Gretchen declined. Ed Henry's daughter got to her first. Watch the full discussion above and give us your thoughts: would you tell your daughter to sell cookies outside a pot dispensary? Toddler Tests Positive for THC After Eating Pot Cooki Continue Reading

Advocacy groups ask Girl Scouts to end partnership with Barbie

NEW YORK — America’s top doll, Barbie, finds herself in controversy once again, this time over a business partnership between her manufacturer, Mattel, and the Girl Scouts. On Thursday, two consumer advocacy groups often critical of corporate advertising tactics — the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream — criticized Barbie as a flawed role model for little girls and launched a petition drive urging the Girl Scouts of the USA to end the partnership. The Girls Scouts said they would not do so. Just a few weeks ago, Mattel incurred widespread criticism — as well as some accolades — for letting Barbie be featured in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition. The Girl Scouts’ partnership with Mattel, announced last August, includes a Barbie-themed activity book, a website, and a Barbie participation patch — the first Girl Scout uniform patch with corporate sponsorship. “Holding Barbie, the quintessential fashion doll, up as a role model for Girl Scouts simultaneously sexualizes young girls, idealizes an impossible body type, and undermines the Girl Scouts’ vital mission to build ‘girls of courage, confidence and character,”’ said Susan Linn, director of the Boston-based commercial-free childhood organization. She said the Barbie patch — targeted at 5-to-8-year-old Daisies and Brownies — would transform these girls into “walking advertisements.” “This is product placement at its worst,” said New American Dream’s executive director, Wendy Philleo, who described herself as a longtime admirer of the Girl Scouts. “Our children are already being bombarded by marketers’ pitches at stores, at home, online, on TV, and in school,” said Philleo, whose Charlottesville, Va.-based group tries to counter the commercialization of American culture. The Girl Continue Reading

Anti-Semitic Times Square Elmo admits to Girl Scout extortion attempt

A crackpot Times Square performer who was once busted making anti-Semitic slurs while dressed as Elmo admitted Wednesday he tried to extort $2 million from the Girl Scouts. Dan Sandler is expected to get two years in jail in exchange for his plea to attempted grand larceny and stalking through a deal struck with prosecutors in Manhattan Supreme Court. Prosecutors said Sandler, 49, sent "alarming" and "bizarre" emails to a Girl Scouts supervisor beginning in July 2012. He had previously done work for the organization through a temp agency, but the term of employment ended in 2008. Sandler admitted to trying to get them to pay up by threatening to publicize bogus lies, such as that sex with young girls at scout camp was set up and condoned by the institution. He is expected to be sentenced to jail time when he next appears in court on Oct. 9. "I want to continue doing my Elmo gig because I make a lot of money. I want to do that the rest of my life. I should have gone to law school instead of doing the e-learning," the weirdo allegedly blabbed to authorities after his June 5 arrest. He was previously busted on Sept. 18, 2012 for blocking traffic and resisting arrest while shouting about hating "the Jews." "The Jews are responsible for everything that's wrong with the world!" the nutjob said. He faced up to 15 years in prison on the top count in the indictment. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Ex-Elmo performer known for his anti-Semitic Times Square rant tries to extort $2 million from Girl Scouts: prosecutors

A former street performer -- previously busted after shouting anti-Semitic rants while dressed as Elmo in Times Square -- tried to extort $2 million from the Girl Scouts, prosecutors said. Dan Sandler was hauled into Manhattan Supreme Court on attempted grand larceny, aggravated harassment and stalking charges Wednesday. The shaggy-haired Sandler, 49, was wearing a flannel shirt and jeans as he pleaded not guilty to incessantly contacting Girl Scouts staff with "alarming" and "bizarre" emails beginning in July 2012, according to the Manhattan District Attorney. He told them he would go public with false claims, including that the organization arranged sex between men and young girls at scout camp, according to prosecutors. Sandler did some work through a temp agency for the Girl Scouts, but his project with the organization ended in 2008, prosecutors said. The crackpot would-be swindler was arrested Tuesday in San Francisco. On the return flight to Kennedy Airport, he went on another diatribe. “I want to continue doing my Elmo gig because I make a lot of money. I want to do that the rest of my life. I should have gone to law school instead of doing the e-learning," Sandler allegedly told an official escorting him on the cross-country flight. He also claimed he “did the same thing to Pfizer as the Girl Scouts but they never made a complaint about it but they just gave me a lot of money.” “He has a questionable mental state,” said prosecutor Lauren Littman. “He has erratic behavior. He was living in a car.” Sandler was arrested on Sept. 18, 2012, for blocking traffic and resisting arrest at W. 44th St. and Broadway. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to community service. "The Jews are responsible for everything that's wrong with the world! I hate the Jews!" he yelled to passersby. An attorney, Lawrence Gerzog, made a failed bid for Sandler's release at the arraignment Continue Reading

Anti-Semitic Times Square Elmo sentenced to one year in prison for $2 million extortion attempt from Girl Scouts

A street performer who once was arrested while shouting anti-Semitic rants in an Elmo costume bizarrely defended his efforts Wednesday to extort $2 million from the Girl Scouts, saying his actions were just a "protest" against the organization ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Dan Sandler, 49, said he was accepting his punishment of one year in jail because he had broken the law — but he had a good reason for doing it. "This was not a case of some one in the back room or front office trying to embezzle. This was more of a protest, like lying in an intersection," Sander told Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Robert Stoltz. "I am not in any way sorry to the Girl Scouts organization because I believe they are a very corrupt organization because of their relationship to the pharmaceutical industry," Sandler explained. Sandler said that even before his arrest, he has protested the use of "off-label marketing" — using drugs for different reasons than they are approved for — of pharmaceutical products to children and he said his actions were a protest of the Scouts' engaging in that kind of activity for the industry. Outside court, Sandler's lawyer, Lori Cohen, rolled her eyes and shrugged when asked what her client was talking about. Sandler was arrested last May in San Francisco where he was living in a car and brought to New York on attempted grand larceny, aggravated harassment and stalking charges. Prosecutors said he had a seemingly ceaseless stream of communication with Girl Scout staff in New York, sending "alarming" and "bizarre" emails starting in July 2012. They said that Sandler, who did some temp work for the Scouts until 2008, told staff that he would falsely accuse the organization in public of arranging sex between men and young girls at their camps. Sandler pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny after the judge agreed to give him a year at Rikers Island. Part of his Continue Reading

Girl Scouts renew call for plastic bag ban in Teaneck

TEANECK — The Township Council is moving forward with a proposal to limit the use of disposable plastic shopping bags in Teaneck.Township officials asked the township attorney on Tuesday night to draft a measure that, if approved, would impose a 5-cent fee on customers who request a disposable plastic bag at a store.“I think the plastic bag ordinance is a good compromise in which way the township should be leading this fight,” Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin said. “Hopefully within the next few years the state will act.”The members of Girl Scout Troop 19 have lobbied the council to take action on the issue for more than two years.They first undertook the campaign in their work toward the Girl Scouts’ Bronze Award. Over the years they have passed out reusable bags at a local grocery store, talked to experts about the impact plastic bags have on the environment, and gotten more than 500 signatures, including 50 from local merchants, on a petition in support of their cause.The 13 Scouts, who are now 13 and 14 years old, urged the council on Tuesday night to move forward with the proposal.“We believe that it will really have a positive impact,” Scout Michaela Glavin said. “If Teaneck takes the initiative in reducing the use of plastic bags, we may start a chain reaction with surrounding towns.”If the council approves the measure, Hameeduddin said, it will work to encourage the state and other municipalities to take similar steps.“I really would like to commend the Girl Scouts for taking a stand on a project and not quitting and seeing this through to tonight,” he told the Scouts. “A lot of times in politics, it comes from the top down. This is one of those few times where all of you, who I have watched grow up, are taking it from the bottom up to make change.”Plastic bags have been banned in several U.S. cities, in California and Hawaii, and in China, India, and other countries. But Continue Reading