Have you ever wondered why Boy Scout popcorn sells for such high a price? Averaging $20+ a box, BSA popcorn sales may appear to be a greedy cash grab, but having been a Boy Scout myself, I’ll give you the inside scoop on how the high cost is actually broken down! 🙂
Why is Boy Scout popcorn so expensive? Scout popcorn is expensive because purchases are typically thought of as donations that support local scout troops and individual Scouting careers. Popcorn profits are split between Trail’s End (the popcorn brand), the scout’s local council, the troop, and the individual scouts.
If you’re ever in the position of buying Scout popcorn, you’d probably want to know how much of the money that you’re spending actually goes to the scout standing in front of you. How are the proceeds broken down? Why sell popcorn? In this article, I’ll be sharing with you the answers to these questions and more!
(Also, if you’d like to learn more about the finances of Scouting, be sure to check out my in-depth article exploring the many different Costs Of Being A Scout!)
How Much Do Boy Scouts Make On Popcorn Sales?
Many scouts are familiar with the feeling of trying to pitch a $20 box of popcorn to someone trying to make a quick escape. I’ve been there too! However, while Scout popcorn is a bit expensive, it’s pricey for good reason.
Around 70% of the proceeds of this extremely high-margin snack go toward Scouting, making the actual manufacturing cost of the product about 1/3 of its selling price. For instance, a 9-oz box of BSA White Cheddar Cheese Corn that sells for $20 has a donation rate of approximately $14 per box, which funds local Scouting!
Scout Popcorn Proceeds Breakdown
- The scout’s local council collects between 30% and 35%. For a $20 box of popcorn, this amount would be around $6.
- The troop and scout together receive between 35% and 40%. (This commission structure can differ based on the total dollar value of popcorn sold.)
- The manufacturer, Trail’s End, consistently receives around 30% to cover their manufacturing costs.
- As of 2020, individual scouts receive between 2% and 8% of the total amount they sold in the form of an Amazon gift card. For instance, if they sold $1,000 in popcorn, then they would earn anywhere from 2% ($20 Amazon gift card) to 8% ($80 Amazon gift card).
- Additionally, the troop would earn 35% or $350 and typically give the scout 30% of that, around $120, as credit into the scout’s troop account.
Personally, I thought this was a fair breakdown. I used the money that went into my Scouting account to pay for camps and other activities. Then, towards the end of my Scouting career, I emptied the account to purchase supplies for my Eagle Scout project, which involved the beautification of an elementary school!
None of the money that I received was used for activities outside of Scouting, which is typical for these kinds of funds in most troops. The Amazon gift card, while serving as a nice incentive, is typically not the reason why scouts sell popcorn.
Why Do Boy Scouts Sell Popcorn?
Selling popcorn was an exciting way of learning how to communicate value to others. Not all scouts understand this, but to sell popcorn well, you need to know your customer. Selling popcorn is a way for scouts to gain this sort of experience without the risk that typically comes with starting a business. 🙂
Those buying from you aren’t doing it because they’re popcorn fanatics who love to pay $20 for a $7 box — they’re doing it because they want to support you and local Scouting!
Moreover, selling popcorn teaches scouts how to speak to others, set a plan, and put in the necessary work to accomplish their goals. Being creative and entrepreneurial is a central theme in Scouting. Whether it’s on a 50-mile backpacking trip or within the community, a scout must remain steadfast and determined in order to succeed!
From the challenge and uncertainty of selling popcorn, a scout begins to build important lifelong skills. If you’re a scout or parent of a scout who’s trying to sell popcorn, check out this video (3:53) for a few helpful tips on popcorn-sale success:
Scouts selling overpriced popcorn does a lot more good than anyone would reasonably expect. From teaching young people life lessons to providing money to fund community service projects, it seems almost like a bargain to provide that sort of value for only $20! Plus, you get to eat some pretty good popcorn. 😉
Tips For Selling Trail’s End (Boy Scout) Popcorn
There’s a lot of work involved in selling popcorn. I was able to experience, firsthand, how rejection was a major part of the game. However, the experience taught me three valuable takeaways/tips that I still use in my life today:
- People mainly care about what you can do for them.
- “I didn’t succeed,” is far better than “I wish I had tried.”
- There are no failures, only opportunities to learn!
My first takeaway is that you should always examine what you are providing for the other person: In this case, not only did I provide them with popcorn in return for their money, I also made them feel significant by explaining to them how the benefits of their donation would impact Scouting as well as their own community.
My second takeaway is the importance of doing things that are uncomfortable: My greatest regrets from selling popcorn are not talking to people who I was too afraid to approach. Now, I resolve to always at least try to do what scares me — and more often than not, the effort pays off!
My final takeaway was that every missed sale brought me one step closer to the next success: By learning from my mistakes and looking at each failure as an opportunity to discover what wouldn’t work, I developed a mindset in which I could constantly improve!
Simply stated, selling popcorn teaches scouts important skills and mindsets that will be useful for the rest of their lives! 🙂
While the prices of BSA Scout popcorn appear unreasonable at first glance, they are actually that high for a purpose. Not only do the proceeds support local Scouting councils and the troop, but also fund the activities of individual Boy Scouts!
Although each scout isn’t making a huge profit off the popcorn they sell, they’re learning valuable skills that they can apply to the rest of their lives. By purchasing popcorn to support these scouts, you’re also supporting your community! 🙂
Next time a scout comes knocking on your door, don’t give them some excuse about how you’re not interested in their overpriced popcorn. Instead, try asking them for their spiel and let them practice speaking to a stranger for a little bit. Smile, thank them — and then just buy the dang popcorn! You can feel good about supporting local Scouting and making a kid’s day.
In life, we often get what we give. Use that as your reason for buying expensive popcorn the next time you’re asked by some enthusiastic scout. If you liked this article or agree with its message, be sure to share it with your friends! As always, I wish you all the best. Until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey!