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‘Gerber Baby’ Ann Turner Cook dead at 95

·2 min read

The woman whose childhood portrait graced the label of Gerber baby food for nearly 100 years has died, the company announced.

Ann Turner Cook was 95, Gerber said on Friday.

“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 company said in a statement.

Cook became the face of Gerber after a neighbour in Westport, Connecticut, artist Dorothy Hope Smith, drew a sketch of the then-5-month-old and submitted it to a contest.

The image, of a happy baby with rosy cheeks, was a hit with consumers, and the company trademarked it in 1931. It is now one of the most recognisable consumer logos in the world.

Despite its ubiquity in grocery stores across the US, the identity of the Gerber Baby was a secret to the public until the late 1970s. Some had even speculated it was actress Elizabeth Taylor. Others thought it might be Richard Nixon or Brooke Shields.

Instead, Ann Turner Cook was revealed as the person behind the logo.

She was an English teacher and mystery novelist in Tampa, Florida.

“If you’re going to be a symbol for something, what could be more pleasant than a symbol for baby food?″ she told the Associated Press in 1998. “All babies are appealing. The reason that drawing has been so popular is the artist captured the appeal that all babies have.”

Though she may have been associated with a popular and heartwarming logo, Cook was never paid for the use of her image. She was given $5,000 in 1951 in a settlement with the company.

Cook always creditted artist Dorothy Hope for making the portrait of her face so iconic.

“I have to credit Dorothy with everything,” she told The St. Petersburg Times in 1992. “I was really no cuter than any other baby, but she had wonderful artistic talent and was able to draw a very appealing likeness.”

Cook is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

She’s not the only Gerber baby anymore though: company parent Nestlé holds a baby phot contest every year with a $25,000 prize.