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Getting to Know the Real Gerber Baby

Today I came across an interesting factoid. Do you know who the Gerber baby is? It’s a face we all know and love, even if you don’t have kids. It’s the standard for cute babies, boy or girl. “Oh, he looks like the Gerber baby!” That’s a huge compliment, even if he is a she.

The real Gerber baby is Ann Turner Cook, a mystery novelist and retired English teacher. She was the subject of a simple charcoal sketch by Dorothy Hope Smith, an artist who specialized in drawing children.

In 1928, Gerber was ready to launch a campaign to market its brand new line of baby food. But they needed a face first. A face that would move mountains, sail ships and yes, sell baby food. Smith, the artist, submitted her drawings amid competitors who submitted elaborate oil paintings. The Gerber executives fell in love with that cute little smush-face and she became the most popular baby in the world.

In a short amount of time, Gerber adopted the sketch as its official trademark in 1931. Since then, the Gerber Baby has appeared on all Gerber packaging and in every Gerber advertisement. Now that’s exactly what should happen when you win a cutest baby contest, right? Today we just get a fake magazine cover image, geez.

In December 1996, Ann Turner Cook herself was present at the unveiling of Gerber’s first new label in more than 40 years. And while Gerber Baby Foods embraced a new look, Mrs. Cook’s young face is still a part of the Gerber image. Awe.

Updated October 14, 2008 – Funny story… MommyQ was is Las Vegas a few months ago and actually met a real Gerber baby. This guy, who happens to work for MySpace, claimed he was an official Gerber baby. Evidentally there are quite a few. He didn’t have a certificate or anything, but for some reason I totally belived him!