Monday, August 2, 2021

Famous Infants in History: The Gerber Baby

 

Blogger: Amber Schamel
Happy August, everyone! 

Photo by RoadsidePictures (Flickr)
Next month my baby will be turning one! I can't believe how fast this year has flown by. In honor of his birthday, I'm launching a new series on famous infants in history. We'll see how many we can uncover. 

Today we start with one of the most iconic baby faces in the United States, the Gerber Baby.

In 1928, the Fremont Canning Company was preparing to launch a line of baby food products. Their advertising campaign needed a baby face to represent the line, so the company decided that instead of simply hiring a model, they would launch a contest to find the face of what would come to be known as "Gerber Strained Foods", named after the owner, Dan Gerber.

One of the contestants who entered the contest was Dorothy Hope Smith from Connecticut. She created a charcoal drawing of a cherub-faced baby with chubby cheeks and an open-mouthed expression. Smith perfectly captured the bright eyes of the child, and the result was an endearing and adorable depiction of a baby. She intended to finish the sketch in oil paint if she won.

1930's Gerber Truck

The judges fell in love with the simple sketch, and Smith was selected as the winner, however the sketch was so well done, that they wanted to use it as-is, instead of coloring it. Soon, this image of a healthy, happy baby became the face of the new brand, and became loved and known across the globe. Moms everywhere compared the looks of their adorable tot to the iconic "Gerber baby". 

The baby's image was first used in a Good Housekeeping magazine ad. Within sixty days, the icon received national recognition. 

Because of its growing popularity, Gerber officially adopted the image as its trademark in 1931. The Gerber baby has appeared on every product and advertisement since.

Despite the popularity of the image, no one knew the identity of the Gerber baby for over 40 years. People speculated that the sweet face belonged to celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, or Senator Bob Dole. But no one knew for sure. 

Gerber Foods Factory in Freemont, Michigan
Wystan from Ann Arbor, CC BY-SA 2.0

 It wasn't until years later that the true model opened herself up for interviews. Ann Turner Cook was a neighbor of Smith's, and the artist had sketched her likeness. Ann grew up to be a mystery novelist and English teacher. After over 90 years, Ann still possesses the same brilliant eyes we grew up knowing from Gerber products.

Click Here to see a photo of Ann now, in contrast with her Gerber picture!

*****

Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  

She lives in Colorado Springs near her favorite mountain, in a small “castle” with her prince charming. Between enjoying life as a new mom, and spinning stories out of soap bubbles, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples.

Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com/ and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!

6 comments:

  1. Wow, what an interesting post. Have seen that iconic image all my life and never considered it was a real baby. I thought it was just an artist's rendition of a baby from the imagination. What a wonderful thing to happen in one's life, becoming a global baby food icon. Ann still has that sweet cherub looking face and expression in her golden years, bless her soul. Did her family or her get paid anything from Gerber or the artist for using Ann's image?

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    1. Hi Marlene,
      She does still have that joyous expression, doesn't she? I just love it!

      I'm not sure that Ann or her family received anything. I think the artist received whatever compensation was promised through the contest, and that was that. I didn't find mention of anything else in my research.

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  2. Thanks for the post, and happy birthday to your baby!

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    1. Thank you, Connie! So glad you enjoyed the post.

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  3. Great post, Amber. I really enjoyed it and look forward to other famous babies you find. And happy birthday to your baby!

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