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March 26, 2013 2:45 PM

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Girl Scouts: Geniuses of Scarcity

I am a complete and absolute sucker for Thin Mints....

I am a complete and absolute sucker for Thin Mints.

It is a near-religious belief in my life that there is no finer way to get 25 percent of one's daily allotment of saturated fat than by eating four of the little marvels.

And although that is an immutable truth in my heart of hearts (and taste buds), my retail mind knows better. Intellectually, at least, I can acknowledge that my love of the Girl Scouts' Thin Mints is a product not of a magical bakery somewhere, but of ritual and the very successful marketing of scarcity.

On one level, the whole thing is totally insane. There are tons of really good cookies available all over the place and at fair prices. No other cookie brand demands that I know someone with a daughter in the Scouts, that I sign up for my purchase and then wait untold weeks until they appear on my desk one morning (as they did today).

Then again, there are no other cookies I look forward to for months. There are no other cookies I think about more than five minutes in advance.

Sometimes I wish Thin Mints were readily available in stores, but I know that would ruin them. I like the process, the sign-up, the anticipation and the knowledge that once I have my four boxes, that's all I'm likely to get for the year.

This is a trick that high-end handbag makers discovered years ago when wait lists made their wares all the more delectable.

I'm not looking for total reversal of the modern age. I like that so much is available all the time and at the press of a button, that I don't have to go hunting for the right kinds of T-shirts or pine away for jackets that I can't find in my size.

But I also love that some things -- even simple, little things -- just aren't available all the time. If brands and fashion companies and consumer products people could figure out a way to create more things that are less available, our lives would have just a tiny bit more special in them. And that would be a very good and delicious thing.
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