They came in droves.
For eight hours Saturday, Girl Scouts, troop leaders and their families flocked to a West Sacramento warehouse to pick up their orders of Girl Scout cookies. Two assembly lines staffed by 400 volunteers awaited them, distributing more than 800,000 boxes of the famed goodies.
"By the time we're done, we'll have sold 2.8 million boxes," said Diane Bosley, director of product sales for Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, which covers 18 counties throughout the Central Valley, including Sacramento.
Girl Scout cookies are sold only from January through March, and help fund local troop activities. The baked delights have garnered a huge national following. Bosley noted that last year Thin Mints surpassed Oreos as America's No. 1-selling cookie.
On Saturday, around 973 troops showed up from across the region in 2,000 vehicles. Some arrived in SUVs. Others had trailers hitched to the back of pickup trucks. But there was no shortage of cookies to hand out.
"It's just the best experience ever," said Diana Ramirez, 15, who was loading the cookies. "You get in a groove."
Ramirez is not new to the annual cookie sales. The Folsom High student started in Girl Scouts as a fourth-grader. She said the challenge in selling cookies, for her at least, is competing with the younger Scouts.
"Everyone likes to buy them from the little kids," Ramirez said. "So we try being fun and exciting – making up cheers."
A typical Girl Scout sells around 159 boxes of cookies, according to Bosley. At $4 a box, that's more than $600 in sales per person. The cookies will be available door-to-door and at special sites like grocery stores, until sales end March 17.
The Girl Scout cookie empire has sales of some $790 million annually – an indication of the cookies' popularity, since they are sold only in a three-month period. Melanie Glover, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts Heart of Central California, said there's a reason the cookies are not sold over the Internet.
"We're trying to teach the skills of goal-setting, money management, decision-making, business ethics and people skills," she said. "You can only learn those skills in person."