The number of badges offered over the last 110+ years of Girl Scouting is truly amazing. You can find everything from architecture to zoology, but only one badge has survived for 110+ years: the Cook Badge (now known as the Simple Meals Badge).
Several other badges have had a long tenure. The First Aid Badge and the Citizenship Badge started in 1938, and both continue to this day. The Cyclist/Bicycling Badge and the Swimming Badge started in 1912, but the Cyclist/Bicycling Badge ended in 1980 and the Swimming Badge in 2010. The Birds Badge has been around off and on during our 110+ years. Close to the length of the Cook Badge, the Art Badge has also been around for the past 110+ years, but it has had many different focuses, including painting and clothing design, to name a few.
The first Cook Badge in How Girls Can Help Their Country said that Girl Scouts must know how to:
- wash up
- wait on a table
- light a fire
- lay the dishes correctly for a table for four
- clean and dress a fowl
- clean a fish
- make a cook-place in the open
- make tea, coffee, or cocoa
- state the approximate cost of each dish
- cook two kinds of meat
- boil or roast potatoes and another vegetable
- boil rice
- make two salads
- preserve of berries or fruit, or can them
The requirements in the 1920, 1929, and 1933 versions of the Girl Scout handbook are essentially the same. They add knowing how to cook eggs and operate a gas stove (if available).
With the end of the depression in view and the war in Europe threatening to involve us, the Intermediate level for the Cook Badge was started in 1938. The Intermediate level of Girl Scouts is what we now refer to as our Junior and Cadette Girl Scout levels. Back then, the Intermediate level was for Girl Scouts in grades fourth through eighth grade. The Senior level was for Girl Scouts in ninth through twelfth grade.
The 1941 handbook had the revisions for the Intermediate level and showed the new badge. A Girl Scout had to complete ten of the fourteen requirements and five of the chosen activities required cooking. The requirements also changed with the focus on planning menus and nutrition.
The 1950 handbook listed twenty activities, with a Girl Scout having to complete ten to earn her Intermediate Cook Badge. Eleven out of the twenty activities required cooking.
In 1963, Juniors were now an official Girl Scout level, and the handbook had ten requirements to earn the badge. A Junior Girl Scout had to complete all ten to earn the badge, but only three required cooking.
The 1990 Junior handbook renamed the badge “Exploring Healthy Eating” and showed the badge with a red border as part of the Worlds to Explore Girl Scout Badge Program. It had nine activities, with six, including two mandatory cooking activities, required to earn the badge.
The 2001 Junior handbook renamed the badge to “Let’s Get Cooking” and returned to a green border. This badge had ten activities, and a Junior Girl Scout must complete six activities to earn the badge. Five of these activities required cooking, so cooking has made a comeback compared to the last version, where only two activities required cooking!
In 2011, the Junior badge was renamed to “Simple Meals” and pictures a steaming pot on the badge with a purple border. All five steps must be completed, but there are three choices for each step; only one of the choices for each step must be completed to earn the badge—four of the five steps require cooking.
The Simple Meals Badge has changed over the years to reflect what our society at the time thought Girl Scouts should know. Today, very few of us have to dress our own chickens or turkeys, and our recipes are more likely to come from an internet search than a magazine, but we still want Girl Scouts to be able to cook for themselves.
To earn your Simple Meals Badge, check out the activity book and badge available for purchase here.