Jan. 27, 2014 at 1:57 PM ET
In less than two weeks, wide-eyed Girl Scouts will descend upon supermarkets and local businesses to peddle (errr, tempt us with) boxes of Thin Mints and Samoas. But this year, some cookie fiends will find a new, gluten-free treat alongside the usual temptations.
It's a chocolate chip shortbread cookie — made with a mix of rice and tapioca flours instead of wheat — that will only be available in certain test markets this year. It’s great news for the millions who have had to bypass the cookies in the past due to Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
"Both of our licensed bakers have heard from hundreds and hundreds of girls and consumers that they want a gluten-free option to meet the needs of their gluten intolerant customers," Girl Scouts spokesperson Stewart Goodbody told TODAY.com. "GSUSA and our bakers were contacted directly by girls with Celiac disease."
And if they’re tasty, many more might fall for them, as nearly 30 percent of adults said they want to “cut down or be free of gluten,” according to The NDP Group.
But be warned: Gluten-free does not mean low-calorie. While they’re made without artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup, four bite-size (read: tiny) cookies will set you back 130 calories. That’s only 30 calories less than what’s in the same serving size of Thin Mints — and both flavors have seven grams of fat.
For now, the gluten-free cookie market is too small for Girl Scouts to offer chocolate chip shortbread in more than 20 test councils.
"The gluten-free market is growing rapidly; however, the latest market data points to gluten-free cookies as comprising only one percent of the total market for cookies sold," Goodbody said. "In the case of gluten free, the market is currently not substantial enough to require that a gluten free cookie be sold by all Councils."
Girl Scouts’ last attempt to craft a new cookie, Mango Cremes made with Nutrifusion, didn’t quite catch on. But if the gluten-free flavor sells well, Girl Scouts may start offering the flavor in more locations next year.
National Girl Scouts Cookie Weekend officially starts on Feb. 7. A list of locations selling the test cookies can be found here.