Savannah Smiles: The Origin Of The Discontinued Girl Scout Cookie

Many people get excited when cookie season rolls around — what's better than stocking your pantry with boxes of delicious cookies while donating to a youth organization? Tasty treats for a good cause? Yes, please. Most of us have our go-to's when ordering Girl Scout cookies — Thin Mints, Caramel deLites (aka Samoas), and Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs) among the most popular. Yet, while these cookies have stayed strong over the years, other varieties have been less successful or had their time in the spotlight only to gradually lose sales over time. 

It's safe to say that some people were disappointed in 2020 to find that Savannah Smiles was no longer on the order form. These lemon shortbread cookies dusted with powdered sugar had a decent run from 2011 to 2019. The cookie was named after Savannah, Georgia — the city where Girl Scouts began and founder Juliette Gordon Low was born. The "smiles" part of the name comes from the classic Brownie/Girl Scout Smiles song ("I've got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face..."). In 2012, Little Brownie Bakers, one of two licensed bakers for Girl Scout cookies in the U.S., described Savannah Smiles: "This lemon wedge cookie is cool and crisp, with just the right number of lemon chips to deliver tiny bursts of happiness. And, when you hold it right, you'll quickly be reminded of that world-famous 'Girl Scout Smile'." But alas, the cookie was retired like several other varieties over the years. 

The reason why cookies are discontinued

When you can't find your favorite cookie on the order form, you might wonder why it was removed. A Girl Scouts USA spokesperson told Country Living, "GSUSA conducts a market assessment and evaluates the performance of our cookie portfolio, while also staying aware of important consumer trends." Still, it's hard to believe the lemon-zest wedge cookie was discontinued considering the disappointment expressed on social media over its removal. There's even an online petition with nearly 5,000 signatures to bring back Savannah Smiles. In a Reddit post on the Girl Scouts subreddit asking users, "What Girl Scout cookie classics do you miss?" plenty of people named Savannah Smiles as one of their most missed discontinued cookies. Some expressed annoyance that Savannah Smiles was replaced with the "vastly inferior" Lemon-Ups. 

It's understandable that some cookies are discontinued, particularly if they aren't a big hit (the sugar-free cookies tend to last for just one season), yet the reasoning behind removing a cookie is not always so clear. Case in point: Raspberry Rallies. These crispy chocolate-coated cookies with a raspberry filling were quite popular in 2023 and quickly sold out online. However, the Girl Scouts discontinued them after just one year, revealing in a statement to CNN that, "While Raspberry Rally was extremely popular last year, we are taking a pause this season to prioritize supplying our classic varieties." It's also possible the cookies were removed because people were selling them on eBay for six times the cost.

Lemon cookies over the years

The flavor of Savannah Smiles was a reinvention of the Lemon Cooler cookie, a reduced-fat powdered-sugar lemon cookie sold from 2003 to 2006. In a statement to HuffPost in 2012, the Girl Scouts HQ described the cookies as having essentially the same taste but made with slightly different ingredients (they didn't disclose those ingredients). The Girl Scouts have cycled through several different varieties of lemon cookies. While chocolate, caramel, peanut butter, and shortbread seem like the stars of the show, sometimes your tastebuds crave a refreshing citrus-flavored cookie instead. 

Let's start at the very beginning. The first Girl Scout cookies made by Little Brownie Bakers came out in 1974 — Trefoils, Samoas, Thin Mints, and Do-Si-Dos (as well as a lesser-known cookie called Van'Chos that was discontinued nine years later). The first lemon-flavored cookie was Juliettes (1984 to 1985), a daisy-shaped shortbread cookie with a lemon-coated bottom in one sleeve and a praline-coated bottom in the other sleeve of cookies. 

Next came Cabana Cremes (1989), a round sandwich cookie with a vanilla and lemon creme center; Chalet Cremes (1990 to 1995) was essentially the same as Cabana Cremes but in a rectangular shape. There were also reduced-fat and sugar-free versions of Chalet Cremes that lasted just a couple of years. Then came Lemon Drops (1998 to 1999), a crispy lemon cookie with lemon chips. Ultimately, Lemon Ups (2020 to present) and Lemonades (made by ABC Bakers) replaced Savannah Smiles and Lemon Coolers.