The Girl Scouts earn a Cheapskate patch: Fewer cookies in the box this year

The Girls Scouts of the U.S.A. have announced that because of the economy, fewer cookies will be packaged into boxes of Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, and Tagalongs. And it gets worse. The Lemon Chalet Creme cookies are getting smaller, too.

Perhaps sensing the rumblings of a national riot, a rep for the Girl Scouts in Texas, where bigger is better, was quick to explain. Flour prices have gone up by 30%, and cocoa by 20%.

"We aren't talking about a drastic change. We are just talking about a couple cookies," said the rep. Well, yes, but the boxes are also getting smaller, so the Scouts will save on packaging, too.

It was either reduce the portions or raise the price of a box above the current $3.50-to-$4 threshold, she said. Of course, it still means you'll be paying more per cookie than you were last year. And they weren't a great deal to begin with: One blogger noted back in 2005 that even with 15 cookies in a box, the price worked out to nearly a quarter for each little cookie.

Tagalongs, in case you were wondering, are the chocolate-coated ones with the peanut butter-like substance in the middle. (And they're not subject to the current recall, so thank goodness for small blessings.) My favorite cookie variety, the Samoa, is apparently not among the reduction victims, which is kind of too bad, because that leaves me without a good excuse to pack my freezer full of them so they get nice and cold, the way I like them.

America's most beloved springtime treats are shrinking each season, and because they vanish for eight months at a time, it's not easy to put two and two together to realize you're getting less for your money. Two years ago, The Office actor B.J. Novak went on Conan O'Brien and proved something that many of us were suspecting for years: The Cadbury Creme Egg has been steadily shrinking. Cadbury tried denying it, but it was useless. Novak had kept some eggs from seasons past and he compared the old and new sizes on network TV. Cadbury had to reword its literature to shuffle the fallout under the carpet.

At least the Girl Scouts are being up front about their new, more meager proportions. Is that what they call Scout's Honor?
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