Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties and the rest of the well-known cookie lineup returns today as the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program kicks off.


A new cookie joins the offering this year, as well as updated box designs and eco-packaging.


“It's hard to say no to cute little girls wanting to sell you cookies,” said Katie Miller, Aiken service unit cookie manager.


The program, the $790 million, largest girl-led business in the country, begins door-to-door sales today and ends Jan. 27. The sales dates at local retail locations are weekends from Feb. 22 to March 17 and include Walmart, Kroger, Lowe's, Bi-Lo and the Aiken Mall.


The cost per box is $3.50. Payment is accepted with cash or check.


Making its debut as a new cookie is the tropical-flavored Mango Crθme. This crispy vanilla and coconut cookie with mango-flavored crθme filling has all the nutrient benefits of eating cranberries, pomegranates, oranges, grapes and strawberries, according to Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands Council.


The seven other returning flavors are Caramel deLites, Lemonades, Peanut Butter Pattie, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Shortbread, Thanks-A-Lot and Thin Mints.


For the first time since 1999, all cookie boxes will have a new look. The package showcases the Gold Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, and the five skills that the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches girls.


“Cookie sales are something they can get excited about,” Miller said. “It promotes five skills – goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. We are making girls want to succeed.”


An additional change is the Lemonades' new eco-friendly packaging. These cookies join Thanks-A-Lot that were taken “out of the box” in 2010 and packed in film-overwrapped trays.


“Participation in the Girl Scout Cookie Program is so much more than just a sales experience,” said Kim Hutzell, president/CEO, Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands Council. “As girls learn to handle money and be self-reliant, they are also learning how to bring their own values to the business world as they become tomorrow's leaders.”


The South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands council benefits from the cookie sales program because 100 percent of the proceeds from the per box cost remain within the council jurisdiction. These proceeds help underwrite troop activities and expenses, girl programming, camperships, membership assistance, program development, training opportunities and girl-focused property improvements.


Customers can once again choose the option to purchase cookies for deployed, overseas U.S. troops. The Cookies for Soldiers program works by cookie customers designating all, or a portion, of their purchase to this program. Cookie ordering and distribution is handled by the Girl Scouts. Shipping is arranged and financed by the local chapters of the Blue Star Mothers of America.


Those in search of a Girl Scout to order from can visit girlscoutcookies.org or call 800-849-4475 for assistance.