In 2001, a group of four men and four women began meeting in the basement of the St. Louis Church in Hattawa, Okla. They were of different ages and came from various backgrounds, but they had two things in common: (1) They were really fat, and (2) they craved Samoas®, those ambrosial Girl Scout cookies made of caramel, chocolate, and coconut.
The group dubbed itself "Samoa-holics Anonymous," and members spent meetings discussing their addiction. A year later, they took action: They sued the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., blaming the organization for their obesity.
Their suit was the first domino to fall. Since then, no fewer than 20 suits against the GSUSA began wending their way through the court system. Attorneys for the plaintiffs have displayed photographs showing an expanding army of Girl Scouts outside retail outlets, harassing patrons to buy cookies. "Could you imagine being an alcoholic and having to put up with 10-year-olds dressed as leprechauns outside your neighborhood Wal-Mart shoving a six-pack in your face?" said attorney Herman Stock, who became famous two years ago for representing a man who sued the SC Johnson Company after he used Drano as a laxative.
One suit accuses the Girl Scouts of antitrust violations. "They create a demand yet control the supply," according to Charles Hunt, who was a successful accountant until his 12-year-old neighbor knocked on his door three years ago. "You can't even buy the cookies off the Internet. Desperate people are forced to purchase imitations online from Canada."
Other related suits have been filed against organizations other than the GSUSA. One man is suing the U.S. Surgeon General for neglecting to place warning labels on boxes of Girl Scout cookies. "At least smokers know what they're getting themselves into," said the plaintiff. "When I bought a box of Samoas, I didn't know I was buying pain, suffering, and a 58-inch waistline."
Jenny Whittle is suing her employer, Rugtronics Inc., for permitting a hostile work environment. Whittle claims that employees were regularly harassed by co-workers with daughters who were Girl Scouts. "The pressure to buy cookies from colleagues was enormous, and workers could expect reprisals if they bought cookies from one parent but not another," says Beatrice Bindsley, Whittle's attorney. Bindsley says that Whittle's manager made it clear that a portion of her performance review would be based on how many boxes of Lemon Coolers she ordered.
In the past year, Samoa-holics Anonymous has become a 501(c)(3) non-profit, providing support, counseling, and legal advice for those addicted to Samoas. It also aids groups that help victims who are addicted to other kinds of Girl Scout cookies. In the past six months alone, Samoa-holics has helped fund the Sagalongs Foundation, the Association of Do-Si-Don'ts, Curses: Trefoiled Again, and TMFF, the common name for the Organization of Thin Mints and Fat Folks.