Vintage Ad: Who Was That Gerber Baby?

Just who is the nine-decade icon of baby food jars? Hint: It's not Humphrey Bogart.

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In 1927, when Dan Gerber saw his wife struggling to strain food for their baby, he was inspired to start making baby food at his canning factory in Fremont, Michigan. The next year, as part of its national roll-out campaign, Gerber Baby Foods ran the ad below in the Post.

Wanting an infant’s picture for their label, the company asked artists to submit possible portraits. Dorothy Hope Smith, a child portrait painter, sent in a charcoal sketch of a neighbor’s infant daughter. She told the judges she’d finish it in color if they selected her picture, but the judges liked the image just as it was: they refused to let Dorothy complete it. Her preliminary sketch has been used, unchanged, ever since.

For years, the identity of the baby was a matter for speculation. There were rumors that the child grew up to be someone famous. One candidate was Humphrey Bogart (who was 29 years old the year the sketch was made). Other guesses were Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Dole, and Jane Seymour. All wrong. The baby was Ann Turner Cook, now a retired school teacher in Florida, who has been seeing her baby face in grocery stores for more than 90 years.

Gerber baby ad
(Click to Enlarge, 1MB file)

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