Who was the first Gerber Baby?

The d
Chalk drawing used as the original Gerber baby in 1928.
Photo of Ann Turner Cook and the Gerber baby drawing.
Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber baby and the drawing that became a brand icon.

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 4-month old baby was soon to become the face that launched a brand, a face recognized and loved across the globe.

Dorothy not knowing the consequence of how big it will become, won the contest and transferred the rights of her drawing to Gerber for the prize of $300.

The drawing of the baby became so popular that it became Gerber’s official trademark in 1931. The Gerber baby appeared on all Gerber products. But the identity of the baby was a closely guarded secret until 1978.

The mystery behind the Gerber baby

There was a great deal of speculation as to who the Gerber baby was. Guesses ranged from movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor to Senator Bob Dole. Over the years there have been rumors of the actress Jane Seymour being the Gerber Baby.

But mystery novelist and retired English teacher Ann Turner Cook knew the correct answer: She is the Gerber Baby.

Dorothy Hope Smith, a neighbor of the Turner family, drew the portrait and after more than 90 years, Mrs. Cook’s sparkling eyes and adorable, curious baby face still personify the Gerber brand, representing Gerber’s commitment to happy, healthy babies all over the world.

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