In this series, Leafly explores what makes each family of strains unique based on their terpene profiles. A strain “family” refers to a line of hybrids branching from one genetic matriarch that expresses unique and desirable characteristics that breeders seek to build upon. This introductory primer will help you learn a little more about cannabis breeding and strain variability.


Cookies, also known as GSC, stands among some of the most sought-after cannabis genetics ever created. While it’s hard to ignore the strain’s beautiful appearance, qualities like its exceptional potency and the rich, compelling flavors are really what set Cookies apart from other strains.

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Like most popular genetics, Cookies has been used as breeding stock for exciting new hybrids like Blue Cookies, Wookies, Wedding Cake, and many others that build onto the enticing characteristics of Cookies. With many of these offshoot varieties taking center stage on dispensary menus, one might start to wonder what makes them different. They all tend to pack high levels of THC—but do they differ in aroma, flavor, and terpene profile?

The Terpenes of Cookies Strains at a Glance

To gain some insight, I dug through terpene data on four widely-available Cookie hybrids to see what makes them similar—or unique.

Chart of terpenes in gsc, cookies and cream, moon cookies, and orange cookies.
Click to enlarge. (Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)

By layering the terpene data of GSC, Cookies and Cream, Moon Cookies, and Orange Cookies on the same plot, the differences begin to jump out. It’s immediately apparent that Orange Cookies presents the most diverse terpene profile in comparison with the other three strains we’ve pulled from its family tree. GSC, Cookies and Cream, and Moon Cookies, on the other hand, share similar levels of their most abundant terpenes with only subtle differences.

Let’s dive into each of these strains individually and to see how breeding has influenced the aroma, flavors, and effects of these strains.

GSC

Girl scout cookies terpenes (GSC)

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With the often debated parentage featuring OG Kush and Durban Poison, GSC shows a tendency to express high levels of beta-caryophyllene with a complex mix of secondary and tertiary terpenes like limonene, humulene, myrcene, and linalool all working together to create the signature earthy, floral, doughy flavors Cookies is known for. The unparalleled flavors of GSC lead you down a path of happy euphoria with calming physical relaxation that pairs well with most moods and activities.

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Moon Cookies

Moon Cookies Terpenes

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Moon Cookies reinforces the standout traits of its parent by inbreeding GSC with itself. As such, the terpene profiles for both strains look nearly identical, and in my own personal experience, the flavors walk the same path as well. This breeding project emphasizes the linalool profile while turning down the relative abundance of pinene. The earthy, spiced, and refreshing minty flavors of Moon Cookies lead into an euphoric wave over the body and mind while creative focus washes in.

Cookies and Cream

Cookies and Cream terpenes

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Bred by Exotic Genetix, Cookies and Cream was bred with an unknown GSC phenotype by crossing it with the citrus-forward Starfighter to create a complex, creamy smoke. An increased volume of linalool and pinene with a hint of ocimene in the mix transforms the flavor of Cookies and Cream into a sweet, earthy mix accented by vanilla notes. Its experience is best described as relaxing with euphoric bliss melting over the mind.

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Orange Cookies

Orange Cookies terpenes

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Finally we come to Orange Cookies, a strain worth diving a little deeper on. This Orange Juice x GSC cross bred by Franchise Genetics carries the most unique terpene profile compared to the other Cookies family strains we’ve looked at.

So what’s different? Well most noticeably Orange Cookies is a myrcene-dominant strain while the classic Cookies cut highlights caryophyllene as its primary terpene. Where GSC is influenced by limonene as its secondary terpene, Orange Cookies leans on the fresh flavors created by pinene in combination with the complex mix of humulene, caryophyllene, limonene, and terpinolene in roughly even proportions. The resulting flavor from this entourage of terpenes is a bright citrus sweetness that mingles with the earthy vibes true to its GSC lineage. Orange Cookies leaves you with a happy, euphoric headspace and relaxed sedation that calms tension and stress.

Lead image by Julia Sumpter/Leafly

5 Part Series