The Original Gerber Baby, Ann Turner Cook, Has Died
For years, you would see her face every time you walked down the baby food aisle at the grocery store. A sketch of Ann Turner Cook, as an infant, became the logo for the Gerber Products Company. The company was founded in Fremont, MI, and became one of the world's leading manufacturers of baby food. (Gerber is now a subsidiary of Nestlé).
Ann Turner Cook, the original Gerber baby, passed away on Friday, June 3rd, 2020, at the age of 95.
A recent Facebook post from Gerber reads:
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. We extend our deepest sympathies to Ann’s family and to anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her 💙
How Ann Turner Cook Became the Gerber Baby
It was a neighbor of Ann's, an artist who specialized in children's drawings named Dorothy Hope Smith, who drew the original, rough charcoal sketch. Ann's family was living in Connecticut at the time. That portrait of an adorable baby was submitted by Smith in a Gerber logo contest in 1928. When the sketch was submitted, she noted that it was an unfinished drawing -- and that she would finish it if it was selected as the winner. Surprisingly, it was the winner and Gerber wanted no changes made to the original sketch. That sketch was used as the logo for Gerber Baby Food for decades and became the company's trademark in 1931. Ann's identity was kept secret for many years.
In the early 50s, Gerber paid Turner for her likeness. She was given $5,000 that she used as a down payment on a home. In 1990 that she appeared as a guest on the television game show "To Tell the Truth". There were many rumors that the baby was actually a sketch of a celebrity. It was often thought to be a sketch of Humphry Bogart, Ernest Borgnine, Elizabeth Taylor, or even Senator Bob Dole.
The Adult Life of the Gerber Baby
Ann Turner Cook's family moved to Orlando, Florida. She grew up to get a bachelor's degree in English from Southern Methodist University and a master's degree in English education from University of South Florida. After graduating from college, Cook became a teacher. She taught students off all ages during her teaching career. She was described in a yearbook as "a teacher who really communicates with the students".
After retiring from teaching, she became a novelist. Cook was a member of the Mystery Writers of America, and was the author of the Brandy O'Bannon series of mystery novels.
Cook died at her home in St. Petersburg, Florida, on June 3, 2022, at the age of 95.
Here is a story that CBS Morning News did on Ann Turner Cook back in 2013...
Oprah's Network also did a story on the Gerber baby...