The original Gerber baby celebrated a milestone birthday this weekend as she rang in her 95th birthday.
Ann Turner Cook may not be a household name, but her face can quite possibly be found in most American households as the iconic open-mouthed tot that graces all Gerber products. Cook, the original Gerber baby, celebrated a milestone birthday this weekend as she rang in her 95th birthday with a full head of white hair and the same contagious smile. "A very happy birthday to the original Gerber baby, Ann Turner Cook!" the company posted Saturday on its social media pages. "Ann, who turns 95 today, has graced Gerber products since 1928. Her image has inspired parents everywhere to share their babies' photos with Gerber."
According to the company website, Cook has been the face of the company since 1928 when artist Dorothy Hope Smith—a neighbor of the Turner family—"simple charcoal sketch of a tousle-haired, bright-eyed cherub of a baby with endearing pursed lips" into a contest for an advertising campaign. "In her entry, Smith noted that she would finish the sketch if she won. Her drawing competed with elaborate oil paintings, but the judges fell in love with the baby face Smith drew, and when they chose it as the winner, they insisted that the simple illustration remain a sketch. The image of this happy, healthy baby was soon to become the face that launched a brand, a face recognized and loved across the globe," the website states.
The original Gerber baby, Ann Turner Cook, is celebrating her 95th birthday today! pic.twitter.com/JCKGznkcnX— ABC11 EyewitnessNews (@ABC11_WTVD) November 20, 2021
Gerber has since expanded its business beyond food to include skincare, clothing and other children's products, but the face of the original Gerber baby remains plastered on most items. However, the name behind the cherubic face wasn't revealed for 40 years until 1978. Before then, the brand says on its website, many speculated the face belonged to a celebrity, with theories including Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Sen. Bob Dole or Jane Seymour.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 🎉 The original Gerber baby, and Tampa native, Ann Turner Cook turns 95 today! pic.twitter.com/5K0L5TdVc8— 10 Tampa Bay (@10TampaBay) November 20, 2021
Cook went on to become a mystery novelist and English teacher, according to the University of South Florida College of Education. She spoke to PEOPLE about her unconventional fame in 1976, saying: "It's not anything I did myself. I'm more proud of having earned my master's degree after 13 years as a housewife, of having worked my way up to chairman of the English department of a large high school, and of my 29-year marriage." She also revealed that as a mother of four, she was loyal to the products her picture still helps sell. "I used Gerber foods for all my babies," she said.
My grandmother was the Gerber baby. It was a funny bit of trivia, never made her rich or got us free strained peas or anything. But last week she got to meet the company's newest spokesbaby, named Lucas. Pretty pretttty cute. pic.twitter.com/u7ddWaM1Ed— Chris Colin (@chriscolin3000) June 4, 2018
In 2018, Cook posed for an adorable photo with Lucas Warren, an 18-month-old who was the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome. Cook's grandson, Chris Colin, posted a picture of Cook holding Lucas on her lap to his Twitter account where it quickly went viral with 62.9k. "My grandmother was the Gerber baby. It was a funny bit of trivia, never made her rich or got us free strained peas or anything. But last week she got to meet the company's newest spokesbaby, named Lucas. Pretty pretttty cute," Colin tweeted.
Original Gerber Baby Ann Turner Cook, whose famous face has been printed on countless products over generations, is celebrating her 95th birthday. https://t.co/1ytW1gOvMd— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) November 21, 2021
"She just loves babies," Colin told PEOPLE at the time. "She thinks of herself as sort of the face of babies. And because of this funny thing that happened, she gets to meet all these really wonderfully cute little babies in life. My grandmother has always said that there’s something about the Gerber baby that cuts across all kinds of people. We all feel so divided sometimes, but the positive response that came from all kinds of people... that is one of the things that’s touching for me."