The original Gerber Baby is celebrating her 90th birthday.
In 1927, a sketch of a 4-month-old baby was chosen by the Gerber company to be the face of its baby food brand. That baby was Ann Turner Cook, whose birthday was reported by the Today Show.
The story is summarized on the company website:
In 1928, Gerber held a contest to find a face to represent a baby food advertising campaign. Artist Dorothy Hope Smith entered her simple charcoal sketch of a tousle-haired, bright-eyed cherub of a baby with endearing pursed lips. In her entry, Smith noted that she would finish the sketch if she won. Her drawing competed with elaborate oil paintings, but the judges fell in love with the baby face Smith drew, and when they chose it as the winner, they insisted that the simple illustration remain a sketch. The image of this happy, healthy baby was soon to become the face that launched a brand, a face recognized and loved across the globe. Indeed, the illustration became so popular that Gerber adopted it as its official trademark in 1931. Since then, the Gerber Baby has appeared on all Gerber packaging and in every Gerber advertisement.
The identity of the baby was kept secret until 1978, when it was finally revealed the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the famous sketch. Cook, a retired English teacher and mystery novelist, now resides in Tampa, Florida.
Gerber, which was acquired by Nestle in 2007, began in the kitchen of Dorothy Gerber, who began straining solid foods for her baby on the advice of the family pediatrician.
“After repeating this process many times, Mrs. Gerber suggested her husband try it,” explains the company website. “She watched Dan make several attempts, and then he pointed out that the work of straining fruits and vegetables could be easily done at their canning business, based in Fremont, Michigan. Workers in the plant began requesting samples for their own babies, and the legacy of Gerber baby foods began.”