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Original ‘Gerber Baby’ Dies at 95, And She Wasn’t From Fremont

The late Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber baby. (CBS Sunday Morning via YouTube)
The late Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber baby. (CBS Sunday Morning via YouTube)

This is going to sound a little like Paul Harvey’s Rest of the Story, from back in the day. A little girl, Ann Leslie Turner, was born in Westport, Connecticut in 1926. Her father drew a then-famous comic strip, Captain Easy, and her neighbor was an artist, Dorothy Hope Smith. Smith drew a charcoal drawing of little Ann. A year or so later, Gerber Products of Fremont, Michigan, a division of Gerber Life Insurance, announced a contest looking for a baby image to be the logo of all its products. Smith’s drawing of Ann was chosen. And it was secret until 1978.

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Ann grew up, taught school in Tampa, Florida, and even became a writer of mystery novels. She had four babies of her own, and at the time of her passing, was a great-grandmother. But for some fifty years, the mystery was, who was that baby.

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(CBS Sunday Morning via YouTube)

It wasn’t a big secret, but it wasn’t public knowledge either. The news became public in the late 1970’s. And she did do some interviews as the years passed. And, as you can see in the CBS Sunday Morning piece, she was quite a charming woman. Another fascinating part of the CBS piece was how Gerber Manufacturing got into the baby food business. Sally Gerber was about Ann’s age and her mother was trying to make baby food and complained to her father, who told his wife that he could do that at his canning plant. And Sally’s mother said well why don’t you. The rest of the story is American baby food history.

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