How the masterful branding behind Girl Scout Cookies created an iconic cannabis strain that’s gone well beyond the buzz.
“Everybody thinks they got the real one, but the truth is we never let it out to no one,” says Jigga, the legendary breeder behind Girl Scout Cookies.
No other strain in modern cannabis history has caused as much controversy and hype as the Cookies. The commonly believed story is that it’s a cross of several strains, probably including the genetics of OG Kush, Durban Poison and Grand Daddy Purple. Another commonly held belief is that it’s a cross of Cherry Pie Kush, which contains GDP, OG and Durban Poison.
According to Jigga, none of that is true.
“Man, those are the stories that we put out there to keep people from trying to copy our shit,” he says.
This, however, could have also been a misdirection. Still other Mendocino growers in the know have flat out stated that it’s a derivative of Cherry Pie Kush that turned hermaphrodite due to a light leak in a grow room. The resulting seeds were planted and the name was coined due to its distinctive Girl Scout Cookies smell. Until we have a more fully mapped cannabis genome, we might never know for sure.
What is for sure is that Girl Scout Cookies (rapidly shortened to just Cookies due to obvious copyright issues with the Girl Scouts of America) took the cannabis world by storm. Like Grand Daddy and OG Kush before it, when this strain – with its minty nose and smooth taste – quickly became all the rage.
In 2012, Cookie clones were selling for as much as $1,000 a stem. Like OG and GDP, it was a low yielder initially with many experienced growers only getting a half-pound or so per 1,000 watts (before the advent of the game changing Gavita lights). The herb itself wasn’t even that spectacular, but it was popular due to the rise of the Instagram cannabis nation.
Four years on, it’s hard to imagine the cannabis world without Instagram – but the “Cookies Fam,” as they refer to themselves, was the first to exploit this new medium and mount a genius branding campaign around their strain.
The rapper Berner was the main driving force behind this phenomenon. He started name checking the Cookies in his music and then rapidly expanded its marketing reach by creating an entire line of branded clothing, hats and ashtrays. Pretty much anything one could imagine was branded and sold. There is now even a Cookies clothing store in San Francisco and young fans nationwide – many of whom might never have even smoked the Cookies – rep their brand.
As Berner’s career took off (he’s now on Wiz Khalifa’s label and hangs with Snoop as well), the Cookies went right along, too, with photos and short videos of him smoking nationwide filling Instagram feeds. When Instagram went after cannabis-centric sites, he was able to successfully argue that he was primarily a musician and avoided being censored.
The cannabis industry, like so many others, tends to thrive on drama and the Cookies story is testament to that fact. As with many cannabis tales, this one also has a pretty interesting backstory and Jigga is in the process of writing a book telling his side.
“I’m going to let folks know how this story really went down and let them decide for themselves who deserves the credit for all of the real work behind the breeding,” said Jigga.
The split can’t have been too acrimonious, though, as Jigga and Sherbinski (the breeder responsible for Gelato and the Sherbet) are all featured on Berner’s new web series “Marijuana Mania.”
The furthered strain developments of Gelato and Sherbet – as well as all the offshoots like Thin Mint or crosses like Blueberry and Strawberry Cookies – shows that this family of strains, like OG before it, is around to stay. The Cookies Fam and Berner are long-term players in an industry that they have helped to create. Their early recognition of the power of social media to drive cannabis brands will probably prove to be at least as big a contribution to the industry as the Cookies strains themselves. For fans of the “fam,” this is good news indeed.