Gerber Baby is a trademark of the company that makes Gerber baby products, Gerber Products Company, a company that was started by Dan Gerber as the Fremont Canning Company.
The founder was looking for the perfect baby face for his new baby food campaign, which he was ready to launch in 1928. He got the idea that the best way to find the most perfect baby face was to hold a contest that summer. Several paintings and drawings were submitted, and some were elaborate oil paintings while others were simply drawn sketches. An artist named Dorothy Hope Smith of Westport, Connecticut did something special.
Smith was an artist who specialized in children’s drawings, and she submitted an unfinished charcoal drawing as her entry. It was far closer to just a simple sketch than it was a professional drawing, but she told the judges that if her sketch was the winner, she would finish it professionally.
Not only did she win the contest, but to her astonishment, the judges didn’t want any changes done to the drawing. So it was official. The company had a model and in 1928, the Gerber Baby was added to the new products and used in a Good Housekeeping baby food advertisement that same year.
Within 60 days of its launch, the ad campaign had gained national recognition and was eventually even recognized internationally. The baby in the sketch was Ann Turner Cook, who grew up to become an English teacher and a mystery novelist. For many years, she avoided publicity but in recent years, she has granted interviews to select Florida newspapers. Ann remained as the Gerber Baby for decades before the company started choosing a new baby every year beginning in 2011.
Since then, the company has chosen a diverse group of babies to represent them, including a little boy with Down syndrome and a little Black girl who was the first adopted Gerber Baby.
The original Gerber Baby, Ann, celebrated her 94th birthday this year in Tampa, Florida, where she lives. The artist who drew her famous sketch was a friend of the family. Watch the video below of Ann meeting the 2018 Gerber Baby.