1944 Girl Scouts Handbook Has 10 Really Terrible Vintage Diet and Nutrition Tips

I recently found a 1944 copy of a Girl Scout Handbook, and what an interesting journey it was to another time that seems worlds away from the one I live in. There’s a lot of focus on developing skills to be a happy homemaker; while my understanding of a modern Girl Scout Handbook invokes a woman who is independent and an equal partner in business, sport, and life.

1944 girl scout

Young Ethel of Elizabeth, New Jersey owned the near-perfect copy I found, its aged pages revealing she was a member of troop 39. The rest of the book revealed some health and nutrition advice that I found down-right comical. I was unable to get my hands on a current Handbook, but I have to believe the recommendations for fried food, butter, and thousands of calories a day have changed just a little.

Hey! Where are the Cookies?

vintage girl scout cookies

Cookie sales first began in 1917 in Oklahoma and by 1936 they’d licensed their first commercial baker. But alas this book, printed in 1944, makes no mention of cookies – neither as a fundraiser or even a recipe. However, Wikipedia notes that around this time, 1943, the Girl Scouts sold fat in cans to support the war efforts.

Why You Should Never Buy Girl Scout Cookies

Girls Should be Eating ALL OF THE CALORIES!


“You probably need between 2,200 and 3,000 calories a day. A grown woman who does little active work needs only half of what you do, while a husky football player probably needs twice as much.”

Eleanor Roosevelt Should Have Done Work on These School Lunches

bread butter

“A well balanced school or picnic lunch includes at least one thing chosen from the following main headings…” reads guidance for troops on packing a lunch.

Butter was recommended on at least one slice of each side of the sandwich. Canned fish, such as salmon or tuna, was supposed to be mixed with salad dressing “to form a paste for spreading.” And the sweets weren’t to be forgotten, with recommendations including “cookies, sponge cake, sweet chocolate.”

A Balanced Diet of Fried and Creamy Foods

fried chicken and mashed potatoes

“Combine some soft foods, such as mashed potatoes or a creamed dish, wiht something crisp and chewy, such as cole slaw, radishes, or fried food.”

RECIPE: Honey Thyme Mashed Sweet Potatoes

No Rainbows Allowed at Dinner

green foods

“Avoid clashing colors, such as beets and carrots, together on a plate; or green peas, green cabbage, and kale in the same meal.”

Defining Carbs is Really Hard.


“Carbohydrates. A long word, which includes the sugar and starch family.”

They even imply that this applies to “especially bananas” and never make mention of whole grains or fiber.

Just Take Our Word For it on the Eggs!


“Eggs are so important that you should have one every day.”

The 1944 Girl Scout Handbook gives no other explanation as to why or what is in the eggs that makes them a daily requirement.

Milk Is Perfect. Drink All Of It!


“Milk is the one most nearly perfect food. One quart of milk should be included in your diet each day. You do not have to drink it all, for you may get part of it in creamed soups, breads, pastries, and ice cream.”

Cooking Makes It Prettier, Duh!

vintage housewife

“Cooking simple means the application of heat to for in order to make it more attractive and easier to digest.”

No One Can Hate on a S’More!

scouts smores

A single-serving recipe for Some Mores appears on page 577:

4 squares plain chocolate (thin)
2 graham crackers
1 marshmallow

The instructions are as to be expected for this “chocolate bar sandwich,” but also suggest using peanut butter or pineapple instead of chocolate.

Also Read:

Girl Scout Cookies vs. Boy Scout Popcorn

How Many Calories in Girl Scout Cookies

35 Kid-Friendly Snacks for School

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