Ann Turner Cook, whose face became the iconic Gerber logo nearly a century ago, has died at the age of 95.
The Michigan-founded company announced Cook’s passing in an Instagram post 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 1928, Cook was 5 months old, and a neighbor, artist Dorothy Hope Smith, drew a charcoal sketch of her that was later submitted for a contest Gerber was holding for a national marketing campaign for baby food.
Judges “fell in love” with the face that went on to launch the Gerber brand across the globe, the company website says.
The sketch was a hit and became the company’s trademark and has been used in all packaging and advertising since 1931.
The identity of the original Gerber baby, however, remained a secret for 40 years.
The identity was top secret, and spurred rumors about who it was with guesses including Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor.
In the late 1970s, it was revealed to be Cook, who grew up to be an English teacher in Tampa, Florida, and later a mystery novelist.
Cook told The Associated Press in a 1998 interview that her mother had told her when she was young that she was the baby in the illustration.
She said, “If you’re going to be a symbol for something, what could be more pleasant than a symbol for baby food?″
As for the image itself, she said, “All babies are appealing. The reason that drawing has been so popular is the artist captured the appeal that all babies have.″
For the past twelve years, a contest is held yearly to search for a new face of Gerber. Recent winners include the first Gerber with Down syndrome, Lucas, and this year’s winner, Gerber’s official ‘spokebaby’ and ‘Chief Growing Officer’, is Isa from Oklahoma.