It’s Girl Scouts Cookies season again! Nationwide, the Girl Scouts outsource their cookie production to two different companies, Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) and ABC Bakers.
I live in an LBB region, and LBB is a subsidiary of Keebler; ostensibly, Girl Scouts licenses their recipes to Keebler via LBB for their actual cookie production. Two of their cookies, Thin Mints and Samoas, have supposedly-identical equivalents available from Keebler, namely Grasshoppers and Coconut Dreams, respectively.
Whenever the Girl Scouts aren’t selling cookies, or whenever joyless grownups want to enjoy their cookies without actually funding the Girl Scouts, common knowledge is that you can satisfy your cravings by buying the Keebler equivalents. But is that true?
I bought a box each of Thin Mints, Grasshoppers, and (outside of the comparison) Samoas, which are my actual favorite. Even from the exterior it’s pretty clear that they’re somewhat different:
The shape of the cookies are slightly different (Thin Mints are slightly larger and thicker), and the color of their chocolate is also different, with Thin Mints looking a bit more grayish and Grasshoppers looking slightly browner. Both cookies smelled pretty similar, however.
Cutting into the cookies made their differences even more apparent:
Visually, you can see that the biscuit on Grasshoppers has a tighter, denser crumb. Audibly and tactilely they were absolutely different; the Thin Mints had an airy, crispy sound and feel, and it was much easier to cut through it.
Flavor-wise, they were pretty similar but, again, not quite the same. The Grasshoppers tasted a bit sweeter, and a bit waxier, with a softer coating. Both were about the same in terms of mintiness overall. I felt like the Grasshoppers were a bit more chocolate-forward, while the Thin Mints tasted a bit more alkaline, and like the chocolate was much higher-quality. The cookie in the Thin Mints also tasted vaguely more buttery, and had a more rounded-out flavor.
After increasing my statistical sample size (i.e. eating way too many cookies) my conclusion is: I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other, but they are absolutely different, albeit subtly.
Their ingredients lists are pretty similar, however:
Interestingly, Thin Mints show flour as the first ingredient and sugar as the second, while Grasshoppers are the other way around, which goes a lot to explain why Grasshoppers taste so much sweeter. Thin Mints seem to use natural cocoa while Grasshoppers are Dutch process (which explains the more forward chocolate flavor, as well as the browner color). It appears that the Grasshoppers also have added whey (making them non-vegan, and probably giving them a more milky flavor) while Thin Mints are vegan.
Anyway, in short, no, Thin Mints and Grasshoppers are not the same cookie. However, they are close enough that I’d consider Grasshoppers to be a reasonable substitute outside of the Girl Scouts cookies season, if you need a quick Thin Mints fix.
As far as Samoas vs. Coconut Dreams go? I didn’t buy any Coconut Dreams for direct comparison but I buy them pretty frequently and am pretty familiar with their flavor. The Samoas taste more buttery and more coconutty than I remember Coconut Dreams tasting, but the texture is very similar. So, again, while I don’t think they’re the exact same cookie, they’re good enough to be a substitute, and are much closer than the difference between Grasshoppers and Thin Mints.
Either way, support the Girl Scouts! They’re an amazing organization that does a world of good.