The World’s Greatest Cookie Salesgirl

Falls Church-native Elizabeth Brinton holds the record.

President Ronald Reagan with Elizabeth Brinton in 1986.

Photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

Elizabeth Brinton started out in Brownies as a first grader in Falls Church in 1978. Her mother was a Girl Scout troop leader. “We had a very active troop,” she says. “We would go camping all the time.” But what really fueled her interest? Cookie sales.

“I was 10 or 11, and they had a contest for the first time, for whoever sold the most cookies. Radio Shack had donated a Tandy home computer,” recalls Brinton, now 45. “And I did it, I won the computer. And it was really fun.” She sold 11,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies; two years later, she sold 16,000. 

She worked up to 40 hours a week selling cookies, and was the first Girl Scout to pitch her products in a subway station. She recalls, “My first day of setting up a cookie stand in a Metro station, they were gone in two hours.” Brinton says she would have fun calling out to passersby. “I would start to memorize the ranks of officers, because if I went to Crystal City, there were a lot of Navy officers walking by. I would be like, ‘Commanders love Girl Scout cookies. Bring some cookies to your ship.’ ”

With the help of U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf, who represented the 10th District, she made it to the Oval Office and met President Ronald Reagan in 1986: “I wanted to know if he was a Thin Mints man or a Samoas Man … Vice President Bush was a Do-si-do man.” Reagan, though, did not reveal his hand. “He very diplomatically bought one box of each.”

More goals were set, and Brinton sold 18,000 cookies in a single season—a record that held until 2014. She still holds the record for lifetime sales—100,000. That was her final goal. “Once I hit 100,000, then I took off my cookie coat and said, ‘My sales days are over.’” She continued in scouting, eventually achieving a Gold Award, which is similar to becoming an Eagle Scout.

After writing about her sales and sending admissions officers a box of cookies, Brinton attended the University of Pennsylvania. Now a mother of  two living in Alabama, she went on to a career in public relations and communications.

“I’ve always said that the lessons I learned selling Girl Scout cookies served me very well in my adult life,” notes Brinton. “This idea of setting goals for yourself, and this confidence that you grow. Young women especially need organizations like the Girl Scouts that give them opportunities to succeed and shine. You carry that with you forever.”

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