Scouts Honor?

Scouts Honor?

I’d ordinarily be reluctant to take on Warren Buffett and the Girls Scouts of America in a single blog post, but this story is too good to pass up. Have you heard? Dairy Queen, which is a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, struck a deal with the Girl Scouts to incorporate the Thin Mint, the best-selling of the Girl Scout cookies, into one of its Blizzards, an ice-cold drink.

The result of this ill-advised merger, according to a news release from DQ and the scouts, is a

A creamy soft serve blended with Girl Scouts Thin Mint Cookie pieces and a Crème de Menthe topping to create this summer’s blockbuster – the DQ® Girl Scouts Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard.

Have they not heard about America’s obesity crisis?

The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest couldn’t resist this story either. Their nutritionists analyzed a Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard—which weighs more than a pound!—and found that it contains more than 1,000 calories, an astonishing 31 teaspoons of sugar and more than a day’s allotment of saturated fat.

I think I’m going to be sick.

The folks at CSPI had some fun with this. Here’s an excerpt from their press release, quoting from the announcement from the Girls Scouts:

“Our partnership with Dairy Queen enables us to reach the public in new and unexpected places,” said Laurel Richie, who holds the position of “chief marketing officer” of the Girl Scouts of the USA, in a press release. Those “unexpected places” will include the waistlines and coronary arteries of at least 10 million people by the end of the month if the company meets its projections. Dairy Queen is on track to sell that many Thin Mint Blizzards by the end of July it told USA Today, but the chain and the Girl Scouts are both mum on how much money has changed hands.

CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson went on to say that “renting out its nonprofit brand name to a junk-food chain is a major badge of shame for the Girl Scouts.”

I dearly hope this isn’t a trend among corporations and nonprofit groups. Business-NGO partnerships can be good for all—think about the Avon walks for breast cancer research or the support that American Express lent to Share our Strength. But they become risky business when a nonprofit with a trusted brand lends its name to a company with a spotty record. The Sierra Club, for example, earlier this year endorsed a new line of “green” cleaning products from Clorox, even though the company continues to sell other cleaning products that are not as good for your health or the environment.

But this DQ-Girl Scouts deal takes the cake (yes, you can have the Thin Mint Blizzard as an ice-cream cake, too) because the product runs counter to the mission of the Girl Scouts. The group’s own website says that its advocacy program “encourages healthy living and combats obesity.” Crazy. To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with blizzards, burgers and shakes, so long as they are consumed in moderation. But given the unhappy reality that millions of Americans seem unable to moderate their eating habits (or to get off their big butts to exercise a few times every week), it’s the responsibility of big food companies to help solve the obesity crisis, not make it worse. Even Ben & Jerry’s now sells low-fat frozen yogurt.

And if you disagree with me that the obesity crisis is partly the responsibility of corporate America, surely you agree that a service organization like the Girl Scouts out to take the issue seriously. Instead, they give us the Thin Mint Blizzard, about a good a way as you could imagine to promote obesity and Type-2 diabetes to girls. Is there a merit badge for selling out?