Freshly Baked: Samoas are Caramel DeLites

Opinion by Tim Moon
March 1, 2011, 12:28 a.m.

Freshly Baked: Samoas are Caramel DeLitesIt’s that time of year again. Girl Scout cookies are back!

Two days ago, I was leaving a grocery store with a bag of candy, and much to my delight, there were two little Girl Scouts sitting behind a small plastic table set up in front of the store covered with boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Despite the fact that I was already holding a bag full of sugar, I just had to get a box of cookies. It’s all for a good cause.

I ended up getting a box of Thin Mints, but while I was deliberating, I noticed that some of the cookies had different names than what I was used to seeing. Caramel DeLites, those devilishly delicious bites of vanilla cookies draped with caramel and coconut and striped with chocolate, were called Samoas. Peanut Butter Patties, those hefty, chocolate-covered pucks of peanut butter and cookie, were called Tagalongs. My favorites, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, were called Do-Si-Dos. Even Shortbreads, a.k.a. the worst Girl Scout cookies, were renamed, to Trefoils.

What was this? What was wrong with the names I grew up with? If someone says to you, “here, have a Caramel DeLite,” you know that you’ll be getting a delightful caramel treat. It doesn’t get much clearer than Peanut Butter Sandwiches. And when you walk up to a Girl Scout cookie table and see only boxes labeled Shortbreads, you know to walk away immediately (I actually really like shortbread, but Shortbreads are another story). But if someone offers you a Tagalong, you’ll either: a) think they’re just being really clingy or b) need to ask for further explanation, which is 10 whole seconds of your life that could have been saved if they had just offered you a Peanut Butter Patty. In those 10 seconds, you could have eaten a second Peanut Butter Patty. Does that make the stakes clearer?

Names are funny. After I got back from the grocery, I was preparing a pork belly in the kitchen when a housemate came in. While we were talking about the name “pork belly” (which sounds a whole lot better than “1.5-pound slab of unsliced bacon”), we somehow got to talking about our own names. She mentioned that what everyone called her here was actually different than what she was known by back home. For whatever reason, one of her freshman year friends had just started calling her this new name, and as everyone thought that they were super close, everyone started calling her this name as well. Can you imagine having the name you’re known by be decided by such an arbitrary thing like that?

Well, sure. Your parents picked your name for you. There’s so much power in a name, it seems almost unfair that choosing it was out of your hands. I mean, if I tell you that your choices for a blind date are between Gilligan, Mark and Spike, you’re probably going to assign imaginary faces or traits to these names that are similar to what most people would assign.

We do have a little flexibility. Whenever I write my name on a paper or test, I write my given name, Timothy. Everywhere else, I mostly go by Tim, although maybe a third of my friends call me Timmy. People sometimes ask me what determines which name I go by, and while I can’t really explain it myself, it usually just comes down to how I want to appear to that person.

In high school, I took it one step further and tried to give myself the nickname Moose. A couple of people actually started calling me Moose, probably tickled by the fact that they could now say they knew a Moose, but most of my close friends refused to go along with my power play. At that point, I really envied the foreign exchange students who got to choose their own English name.

The Moose experiment and the Girl Scout cookies show how hard it is to change something so tied in with your identity, but since when does something being hard stop Stanford students? We spend so much time grooming ourselves, choosing the right clothes, working out to stay in shape, why don’t we spend time thinking of a name that better suits us? Sure, there are a lot of practical and professional reasons to dissuade us, and I’m not suggesting that we all go and get legal name changes (although that’d be cool), but it might just be something fun to try.

As long as you don’t decide on a nonsense name like Do-Si-Do.


Tim is craving some more Girl Scout Cookies. Tell him your favorite kind at [email protected].



Login or create an account