They're not Thin Mints. They're not even cookies. But the forthcoming Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks apparently taste so much like the real thing the Girl Scouts of the USA have officially blessed the little chocolate-dipped nuggets from Biena Snacks.
The product officially debuts in June at Whole Foods, which will exclusively sell the snacks for three months before they roll out to other retailers in September. Unlike Girl Scout cookies, these chocolate chickpea poppers will be available year-round, which may inspire you to stop hoarding Thin Mints in the freezer.
Poorvi Patodia, founder and chief executive of the Boston-based Biena, said Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks were something of a happy accident. After introducing a line of chocolate-covered, sea-salt chickpeas last summer, Biena kept experimenting with other flavors. One of the company's recipe developers, Patodia said, created a peppermint-y version of the snack.
"People started to make the comment that these taste a whole lot like Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies," Patodia told The Post. "From there, I thought, 'I wonder if the Girl Scouts would actually partner with us?'"
Turns out, they would. The Girl Scouts officially licensed the Thin Mints brand name to Biena. There's a "financial component" to the deal, Patodia said, but the CEO could not disclose the terms. Remuneration aside, the deal between the Girl Scouts and Biena is interesting: The scouting group is not sharing a recipe, just a name.
Biena has developed a snack separate from traditional Thin Mints. The company prides itself on healthy snacks with no artificial ingredients or flavors. Patodia said the Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks are made with only six ingredients, including Fair Trade dark chocolate and cane sugar. They're gluten-free, too. Girl Scouts Thin Mints are produced in season by two different bakeries: ABC Bakers in Richmond, Virginia, and Little Brownie Bakers in Louisville, Kentucky. The bakeries have slightly different recipes for Thin Mints, both of which have more than 10 ingredients, including artificial flavors or colors.
"One of the value propositions of the brand is that we use very clean and simple and recognizable ingredients," Patodia said.
Then again, Thin Mints, the actual cookie, has never been a stagnant product, in name or recipe. According to a Time magazine article, the cookie was introduced in 1939 as "Cooky-Mints." At one point, there were 29 different licensed bakers producing the cookie. In 2015, Thin Mints apparently went vegan. (A review of the current ingredient list would appear to confirm this.)
If there's one thing that Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks and the cookies that inspired them have in common, Patodia said, it's this: They both taste really good when frozen.
The Washington Post Food staff didn't try them frozen, but we dipped into some preview samples of Thin Mints Chickpea Snacks, with mixed reactions. The packaging threw some testers because it features images of real Thin Mint cookies, which creates a kind of dissonance when little chocolate-covered chickpeas drop from the bag.
"I think they were mistaken in promising Thin Mints," said one tester. "The standard's too high."
Another suggested, with no irony, that the treats taste like "camping and hiking . . . Which is actually Girl Scouts. Perfect."
"Yes, like survival," chimed in another tester. "It's sort of like a bad chocolate pretzel."
"The problem is, both are things that I love. I love crunchy chickpeas, and I love Thin Mints," said one staffer. "Two great tastes that don't taste great together."
Guess you'll have to wait for next Girl Scout cookie season to get your Thin Mints fix.