The Gerber brand has dominated the world of baby products for almost a century. A huge key to their success being the iconic image of the most “perfect baby”. In 1928, Gerber issued a contest looking for photos, drawings, paintings from everyday people of their adorable babies to face their brand. Unknowing of this contest that would happen a year later, Dorothy Hope Smith sketched a charcoal drawing of 4-month-old Anne Turner Cook. When the competition opened to applicants, Dorothy submitted her prized illustration. Her simple black and white sketch went up against elaborate oil paintings and other distinct works which led her to doubt her chances. However, in 1931 Gerber judges made the decision to trademark the image. Because the contest valued anonymity, the identity of Cook would not be unearthed until years later.
The Name Behind the Face
Ann says she was about 3 years old when she realized the Gerber baby that she had seen on so many food cans was her. She stated , “I was probably about 3 years old when mother pointed at a baby food jar and said that was my picture,” Cook told CBS Sunday Morning during 2013 interview. “I thought it was quite a lovely thing.” In the years to come, the identity would remain a mystery with the whole country asking the question “Who is the Gerber Baby?”. A poll was done across the United States with guesses stretching from movie stars like Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor to Senator Bob Dole. By the time the poll was engaging the nation, Ann was teaching English at Tampa’s Hillsborough High School. Gerber released the name behind the angelic face in 1978 and Ann remembers the uproar that she received from her students. They were in wonder and could not stop asking question about her. In an interview she said, “And then I would say, ‘Now we won’t talk about this anymore,’ because I didn’t want it to monopolize the time I had with my students,”. After 26 years of teaching Ann retired in Florida and became a mystery novelist, entertaining more and more interviews in her later years.
Ann Turner Cook’s Legacy
Ann Turner was often asked about her feelings towards being such a well- known image. Luckily for her, she loved babies having four of her own. In an interview by the New York Post with Ann they shared, “That’s my immortality, yes,” she (Ann) laughed. “I’ve become a symbol for babies, which couldn’t be anything nicer than that.” On June 3, 2022 Ann died at 95 years old in St. Petersburg, Florida. Gerber issued a post on Instagram thanking her for representing everything their brand stood for, for the entirety of her life. They wrote “Gerber is deeply saddened by the passing of Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber baby, whose face was sketched to become the iconic Gerber logo more than 90 years ago. “Many years before becoming an extraordinary mother, teacher and writer, her smile and expressive curiosity captured hearts everywhere and will continue to live on as a symbol for all babies,” the post continued. “We extend our deepest sympathies to Ann’s family and to anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her 💙”