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Original Gerber baby celebrates her 93rd birthday nine decades after becoming the face of the brand

The woman whose face inspired the Gerber baby drawing has just turned 93. 

The baby food maker, Gerber, says Ann Turner Cook celebrated her birthday on Wednesday.

Cook was about four months old in 1927 when her image was sketched in charcoal by a family friend. 

Ann Turner Cook, above, didn’t get paid until the 1950s, when she received a lump sum for contributing her face to make Gerber one of the most well-known companies in the world

Cook’s big blue eyes, blond curls and slack-jawed expression became world famous

The drawing was submitted to Gerber a year later when the company put out a call for images to be used in its new baby food advertisements. 

Soon after her drawing won the contest, it was featured on every Gerber product and became a symbol of the happy, healthy baby. 

Cook’s picture became the company’s official trademark in 1931. 

Little did she know just how important that drawing would be, both for the company and for her. ‘I can’t think of anything nicer than to be a symbol for babies,’ the retired English teacher said. ‘And that’s what I think I became.’ 

Cook became a mother of four and taught literature and writing in Tampa, Florida, for 26 years before retiring in 1989, but it took Turner Cook more than two decades to get paid for her iconic face.

In 1931, Gerber trademarked the picture, and in the early 1950s the company paid her a lump sum – ‘enough to make a down payment on a modest house and to buy a first car,’ she says – for her role in the company, according to CBS News. 

Ann Turner Cook, poses at her Tampa home with a copy of her photo that is used on all Gerber baby food products

Ann Turner Cook, poses at her Tampa home with a copy of her photo that is used on all Gerber baby food products

Cook, now a great-grandmother, still has the same cheerful grin and sparkling eyes that she had as a baby when artist Dorothy Hope Smith, her neighbor in Connecticut decided to sketch her.

‘I always had that expression with my mouth hanging open,’ laughed Mrs Cook. ‘Kind of a quizzical expression!’

She believes people have identified with the sketch for so many years because ‘it reminds them of their own babies. Everybody says, my baby or my grandchild looks like the Gerber baby. And it doesn’t matter the ethnicity. And I say, “Yes, I’m sure they do!” 

Cook, middle, said her mouth was always hanging open in a 'quizzical' expression, just like the one in the famous sketch. For years, rumors abounded that Liz Taylor was the Gerber baby

Cook, middle, said her mouth was always hanging open in a ‘quizzical’ expression, just like the one in the famous sketch. For years, rumors abounded that Liz Taylor was the Gerber baby

CEO Marilyn Knox said there is ‘little doubt’ that Mrs Cook’s face played an instrumental role in the company’s success.

‘You don’t even have to have the word Gerber on it. That face is honored as we’re doing the best for our child,’ she explained.

Indeed, the drawing adorns a flag at the company headquarters in Fremont, Michigan, and is etched in stone near the main entrance to the building.

Gerber kept Mrs Cook’s identity a secret until 1978, allowing myths to circulate that the sketch depicted Humphrey Bogart as a baby, or Elizabeth Taylor.  

Gerber posted this picture and message of Ann Turner Cook on its Instagram page

Gerber posted this picture and message of Ann Turner Cook on its Instagram page 

Cook still makes regular television appearances. She is pictured here in 2012 at NBC's Today

Cook still makes regular television appearances. She is pictured here in 2012 at NBC’s Today

Cook was aware of the fact that it was her face from a very young age. ‘I probably was about three years old when mother pointed out the baby food jar and said that was my picture, and I thought it was quite a lovely thing!’ she laughed.

As she got older, her family came to associate her with the baby food brand as well. ‘My own children would to go to a grocery store and they would point to a Gerber baby food and they’d say, “That’s my mother’s picture!”‘ to whoever was walking by!’ she recalled.

‘And, you know, I didn’t know whether to stop and explain, ’cause it’s kind of a complicated story, or just kind of grin and go on!’

Gerber has yearly contests for its new baby and 2018’s winner was a dark-haired girl called Kairi Yang from Hickory, North Carolina.  

Kairi Yang is the 2018 Gerber baby

Gerber has yearly contests for its new baby and 2018's winner was a dark-haired girl called Kairi Yang from Hickory, North Carolina.

Gerber has yearly contests for its new baby and 2018’s winner was a dark-haired girl called Kairi Yang from Hickory, North Carolina.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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