Utah Girl Scouts sold 1.6 million boxes of cookies this year
Once again, Maya Moody has made a mess of her grandmother's home, where the living room furniture has all been pushed into the kitchen.
The television room and spare bedroom in Alyssa Snyder's house in North Ogden also are in disarray, with boxes stacked from floor to ceiling.
Tagalongs. Trefoils. Samoas. Thin Mints.
Across America, money is changing hands and colorful boxes are being passed around among friends or stowed away in desk drawers and cupboards. But perhaps nowhere is the annual frenzy over Girl Scout Cookies more apparent than in the homes of the state's top sellers.
"They're taking over our house," 14-year-old Alyssa says.
Girl Scouts in Utah sold more than 1.6 million boxes of cookies this year and, for a second year in a row, 12-year-old Maya, of Willard, is the top seller in the state with sales of 5,166 boxes. Alyssa and her friend Jessica Staton, of Layton, tied for second with 4,052 boxes sold apiece.
"I think it's awesome that she has the determination to do it and go out there at [age] 12," Brandy Moody says of her daughter. "It's a lot of work."
Every day during the two-week period the initiated simply call "Cookies," Maya rides the bus from Brigham City, where she attends the sixth grade, to her home.
Then she takes to the streets.
"During Cookies, that's about all I do," she says.
Maya gives relatives order forms to pass around to their friends and co-workers. But she estimates she also knocked on more than 1,000 doors this year.
Her secret is simple: "When I go to the door, I'm not grumpy and I'm not rude. I just go to the door. If they say no, I just go: 'It's OK. It's not a big deal.' "
Before the order sheets came out, Shelley Snyder told the girls ages 14, 15 and 16 in her daughter's troop how many boxes they would have to sell if they wanted to go on the trip they had been dreaming of: 15,000.
Alyssa and Jessica led the way.
Alyssa "tries to get everyone she can, anyway she can," her mother says. She sets daily sales goals. "She knows exactly what she has to do, and we don't get to stop until she accomplishes the goal," says Snyder, who often finds herself behind the wheel for her daughter's sales trips.
Jessica's sales were the product of long hours knocking on doors. Her biggest sale was 36 boxes.
"I like to be out there and get to know some people and get to know my community better," says the 15-year-old, who has been among the state's top three sellers for six years.
Alyssa says she knocks on doors but prefers offices to houses. "There's a ton of people, and they feed off each other's energy," she says.
She used to be shy, but now Alyssa can "talk to anyone," she says. And she knows the power of cookies because she's heard men and women scream in joy when she comes to the door.
"People love Girl Scout cookies," she says. "You just have to reach them."
With their sales numbers close for a second year in a row, the girls followed the same pact they had made the year before to finish with a tie. Alyssa and Jessica bought enough extra cookies each (as many girls do, for the poor souls who thought they had missed their window for the year) and tied with 4,052 boxes sold apiece.
The girls' troop exceeded its goal, selling 20,000 boxes.
That means the group will be going to Costa Rica in July.
Nationally, the cookie program has exploded since the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Okla., held a bake sale in the high school cafeteria in December 1917. Girl Scouts of the USA now brings in $760 million in cookie sales.
"You think of it as just a money-earning project, but actually they get so many other things out of it," Shelley Snyder says. "They learn financial skills and social skills and how to set goals. Girl Scouts has really set it up as a program for them, a teaching thing they can take with them their whole lives."
In Willard, Maya Moody also likes how selling cookies has benefitted her and her friends.
She says they've been able to go to a pottery studio and an arcade with race cars and mini-golf.
Last year Maya and her cousin used "cookie credits" from last year's sales to go to Trefoil Ranch, a Girl Scout camp in Provo Canyon named after Maya's favorite cookie.
There, Maya who says she wants to be a veterinarian took care of beautiful horses.