They arrived in a fleet of trucks and trailers, pulling into a parking lot where hundreds cheered their return to the Valley.
Volunteers played an integral role in their safe delivery, acting as traffic cops while keeping the scene from crumbling into chaos.
One by one, cars were led back to the trucks, chaperoned by their host.
Just who did this rock star ovation belong to?
Was it Carrie Underwood and Hunter Hayes, the hot-ticket country act that played the Stockton Arena on Tuesday evening?
No, for many, it was an even tastier treat.
Cookies – lots and lots of cookies.
Girl Scout cookies have returned to the Central Valley, flooding homes and company break rooms while turning car trunks into makeshift cupboards.
The cookies landed with the force of the Spanish Armada.
More than 569,000 boxes of cookies were delivered to 58 Girl Scout troops in the Stockton/New Calaveras (25) and Modesto/Big Valley (33) regions, which include troops in the Manteca, Lathrop, Ripon and South Stockton area.
Of that load, approximately 320,000 boxes were pre-sold. Additional cookies have been stored in select “cookie cupboards” throughout the area for those in need of more.
The Girl Scout’s Heart of Central California office anticipates the troops within its 18-county region will have sold 2.8 million packages of cookies by season’s ends on Sunday, March 17.
“When a Girl Scout sells you cookies, she’s building a lifetime of skills and confidence,” the Girl Scouts website reads. “She learns goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. … By putting her mind and energies to something, a Girl Scout can overcome any challenge. There are no limits.”
Locally, the cookies have spread like wildfire.
They have become a part of the daily narrative.
There have been parking lot sales at Big League Dreams, where entire soccer and softball teams have into their pockets to purchase Thin Mints, Thanks-A-Lots and Lemonades.
There have been cookie stations strategically planted in front of grocery stores, where adolescent girls sharpen their smiles and work the art of sale.
Yolanda Winters’ girls– Troop 275 – hunkered down in front of the Walgreens in Ripon during Almond Blossom weekend. They’ll be there – two Girl Scouts, two parents per shift – for the duration of the season.
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If ever there was a barometer for the cookie craze, it’s this: The Girl Scouts have gone mobile, tapping into the smart phone generation with a locator application.
The app is available for iPhones and Androids, which means no cookie is safe.
A shortage seems unlikely.
The drop for Manteca area and Ripon-based troops took place in the parking lot of Big Valley Church in Modesto on Feb. 18.
There, Winters’ caravan waited in line with the other troop leaders.
She said there were 12 big rigs, with one or two trucks devoted to each type of cookie. The line fluctuated between 20 and 50 cars; she estimated each troop had one or two vehicles to do the pick-up.
The line consisted mostly of trucks and RVs “because there were so many cookies,” she said.
The pick-up process took Winters 10 minutes, as Girl Scout volunteers expedited orders.
The Girl Scouts are nothing if not a well-oiled machine.
“They run it so well,” Winters said. “It doesn’t get backed up.”
Winters’ troops left with 1,359 boxes of cookies, and the breakdown went thus: 987 for presale orders and 372 for site sales. Winters said the number of site sale packages could more than double by the end of the season.
“Easily,” she added.
Last year, Troop 275 sold more than 2,500 boxes.
Her top sellers are her shiest: Soraida Valle and Gabriella Sansoni.
“Put a box of cookies in their hands,” Winters said, “and they’ll sell like crazy.”
One thing is for certain: These cookie-dealing rock stars have an audience.