And it’s well-known in my circle of friends that my favorite cookie is the coconut-and-caramel Samoa. Yes, it’s a strange name, but evoking the image of the Samoans, known for their sumo wrestlers and Santa-like jolliness, seems an appropriate enough label for the cookie (70 calories apiece).
But upon running into a troupe of girl scouts last week, hawking their wares along Mass. Ave., I was horrified to find that I couldn’t procure Samoas from the scoutette I was talking to. Indeed, chortling to myself at the girl’s youthful naivete, I asked her troop mother, who simply looked puzzled, claiming she’d never heard of a “Samoa.” Thoroughly inspecting the scouts’ boxes, I was happy to find that the purple box displaying the photo image of my favorite treat was present, but bore a different moniker: “Caramel deLites.”
Now, it’s fair to assume that associating a fattening cookie with a people who are stereotyped as being abnormally overweight is unfair, but at least it’s better than sticking in the term “Lite.” For starters, “lite” is a non-word. Were the Girl Scout pooh-bahs searching so hard for a term that didn’t include “light” that they stumbled upon something that usually implies low-cal anyway?
But, beyond that, I’m an angry white middle-American male, disenchanted by the increasing flow of PC into our society. Frankly, the label Samoa was quite appropriate—perhaps the name was meant to conjure the pervasive coconut taste for which the Samoa Islands are known. After all, if Detroit was famous for a fattening food that tasted like smog or whatever else Detroit is famous for, would we refrain from calling it a “Detroit” because the city’s average resident is overweight? I think not.
Perhaps the Samoa is a fat joke of a bygone era. (If this is the reality, kudos to Girl Scouts past, for such a joke is quite bright.) In that only mildly inappropriate way that pop culture tends to reference Howard Taft’s or Larry Summers’ size whenever those names are mentioned, maybe we can all agree joking about the Samoans is hurtful. But a so-called patriotic organization’s retreat in the face of the Samoan lobby is farcical. (Oh, it exists: just ask the portly pork-barreler Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa’s non-voting delegate in Congress).
Perhaps the collegiate generation can no longer remember that the Girl Scouts were once rife with red-blooded jingoism. In this situation, the still-proud Boy Scouts would likely couch this battle in terms of America versus Samoan usurpers. But, alas, the girls have already acquiesced and sold out decades of Americana, labeled squarely with that bold term—Samoa.
Travis R. Kavulla ’06 is an editorial editor.