The Internet is reshaping America's greatest traditions, including the sale of Girl Scout cookies.
This year, more Girl Scouts are turning to the Net for their annual ritual of selling cookies. Net sales still account for a fraction of the total; most of the estimated more than 2 million Girl Scouts still go door-to-door to close a deal.
But don't discount the ingenuity of Girl Scouts.
"Hi! I'm Catherine Pooley. This is my third year in Girl Scout cookie sales," reads one Web site that lets Netizens order cookies online. "Each year I've been the top seller in my troop, and this year I would really appreciate it if you would help me reach my goal of 1001 boxes. Thanks again!"
The site offers a space for users to email their orders to Pooley in boxes marked "Chalet Cremes," "Thin Mints," and "Snaps," among others. A comment box includes hints for "finding your house" or "suggestions to improve this Web page."
Another site, the Patriots' Trail Girl Scouts, lets Netizens not only order via email but pay for their cookies online using a credit card. It offers pricing and a detailed description of each cookie ($3 for a box of "Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies" with 0 percent vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron but 3 grams of protein) as well as a box to use MasterCard or Visa. The AT&T Secure Buy Service is featured.
The site also includes this persuasive sales pitch: "Did you know that $2 of the $3 cost of a box of Girl Scout Cookies is used for Girl Scout programs, both on the troop and council level?"
And what does the official Girl Scout Web site say about sales of cookies via the Net? Nothing. Instead it offers some old-fashioned advice: Under the heading, "How can I order Girl Scout Cookies?" it says: "Contact your local Girl Scout council by telephone by looking up Girl Scouts in the white pages of your local telephone directory."
But the Girl Scouts is serious about the importance of technology. "We're designing, testing, and providing councils with the software they need," the official site states. "We'll design the software with easy-to-use pushbutton menus and provide councils all the manuals and user guides needed to get the job done."
Perhaps a Girl Scout proficiency badge in e-commerce is not far off.