Would a Samoa by any other Name Be as Sweet?


When you bite into a Thin Mint, you probably aren’t wondering where it comes from. (The Girl Scouts, of course.) But wait . . . there are two very different Thin Mints: One is crunchier, more minty. The other is richer with a smooth chocolate coating. Where you buy determines which ones you get. (Los Angeles Times)

Can you think of other foods that have regional flavors? New Orleans has an entire history of them—hello, crawfish tacos.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

A Thin Mint is a Thin Mint is a Thin Mint (right), but would a Samoa by any other name smell as sweet? In about half of the U.S., the coconut-topped cookie is a Caramel deLite. Photo by Brian PDX, courtesy Flickr. CC-BY-ND-2.0

A Thin Mint is a Thin Mint is a Thin Mint (right), but would a Samoa by any other name smell as sweet? In about half of the U.S., the coconut-topped cookie is a Caramel deLite.
Photo by Brian PDX, courtesy Flickr. CC-BY-ND-2.0

Discussion Ideas


  • Marketing is very important for food sales! There seems to be a fairly distinct marketing difference between ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers, the two makers of Girl Scout cookies. Can you spot it? Here are some dual names for what is basically the same cookie:
    • Caramel deLites vs. Samoas
    • Peanut Butter Patties vs. Tagalongs
    • Peanut Butter Sandwiches vs. Do-Si-Dos
    • Shortbreads vs. Trefoils
      • It seems like ABC Bakers usually favors the more descriptive name, while Little Brownie Bakers seems to prefer more fun or poetic names. Which do you prefer? Would the name make a difference in what you bought?
      • Thin Mints, the most popular Girl Scout cookie, retain the name in both ABC and Little Brownie Bakers. If you were a marketer who had to find a new name for Thin Mints, what would it be? Why?


  • Can you think of other foods that have different names for the same product, depending on the region in which the food is sold?
    • Hellmann’s vs. Best Foods. Mayonnaise and other condiments sold by the Unilever company are labeled Hellmann’s in the eastern U.S., as well as Latin America, Europe, and Canada. The same products are labeled Best Foods in the western U.S., Asia, and Australia.
    • Edy’s vs. Dreyer’s. Ice cream and frozen yogurt sold by Dreyer’s (a subsidiary of Nestle) are labeled as Edy’s in the eastern and Midwestern U.S., and Dreyer’s in the west.
    • Arnold vs. Brownberry vs. Oroweat. Bread sold by Bimbo Bakeries is labeled Arnold in the eastern U.S., Brownberry in the Upper Midwest, and Oroweat in the Lower Midwest and west.
    • If you go outside the U.S., it’s even more confusing:
      • Lay’s Chips (a brand owned by PepsiCo) are Walkers in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Chipsy in Egypt, Poca in Vietnam, Tapuchips in Israel and Sabritas in Mexico.


  • According to the terrific LA Times graphic, even Girl Scout cookies that share the same name (like Thin Mints) have wildly different tastes, depending on what baker made them. Can you think of other foods that have the same name, but very different interpretations across the country?
    • Barbecue is one of the most famous examples of regional food. (This is just an example!)
      • Here are three different maps of BBQ USA! By state, by region, by meat.
      • Meat: In some regions, barbecue meat is usually slow-roasted pork ribs. In others, the meat is primarily beef, while in others, it can be any meat or vegetable.
      • Cut of Meat: Some regions cook the “whole hog”, while others prefer shoulder, sausage, ribs, or pulled meat.
      • Wood: In some areas, mesquite or hickory wood provides a smoky flavor. Other areas prefer maple wood, which gives a much more mild flavor to the barbecue.
      • Sauce: In some areas, barbecue sauce is vinegar-based. In others, it is flavored from a basic tomato sauce. In other regions, barbecue sauce has a mustard base. Still other regions favor a sweet molasses-based sauce. Some sauces are sweet-and-sour, fruit-based sauces. Still others (“dry barbecue”) reject sauce entirely.
      • Which type of barbecue do you prefer? What would your barbecue “tasting tour” look like?



LA Times: 6 Girl Scout cookies you thought you were getting but aren’t

Nat Geo: Multicultural Stew: Latinos are just the latest wave of immigrants to the Crescent City

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