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Gerber Baby Food

Gerber Baby Food


The world's largest producer of baby-food products, Gerber Products, Inc., had a modest beginning in the summer of 1927 when Daniel Frank Gerber (1898–1974) and Dorothy Gerber asked the Fremont Canning Company to relieve them of the chore of hand-straining food for their infant daughter, Sally. The Gerbers had already been making use of Fremont's services to produce a line of canned fruits and vegetables. The success of that venture led the Gerbers to manufacture a line of baby food as well. The first flavors, introduced in late 1928, were strained peas, prunes, carrots, spinach, and beef vegetable soup. To promote the new products, the Gerbers placed advertisements using a picture of a baby's face, later called the "Gerber baby," in magazines ranging from physicians' journals to periodicals for homemakers. The model for the Gerber baby was Ann Turner Cook, who grew up to be a mystery novelist and English teacher; her portrait was sketched in charcoal by Dorothy Hope Smith Barlow. Gerber adopted it as its official trademark in 1931.

By 2000, Gerber was making 190 food products for distribution to 80 countries, including its Tender Harvest line of organic baby foods, introduced in 1997. The product mix includes puréed fruits and vegetables as well as cereals and teething biscuits. Its Consumer Relations Department responds to 800,000 consumer questions a year. The department was set up in 1938, with Dorothy Gerber personally responding to each letter. In 1960, the company expanded its line of products to market baby-care items such as bottles, teethers, and breast-feeding accessories. Its line of Wellness products includes lotions, baby powders, shampoos, and vitamins. The Gerber Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary, was established in 1967. It is one of the largest providers of insurance to juveniles, with more than two million policies in force, for a value of $9 billion.

In 1994, Gerber merged with Sandoz, Ltd. The company then became part of the Novartis group of companies formed in 1996 by the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. Gerber is headquartered in Fremont, Michigan.


—Edward Moran

For More Information

Gerber. http://www.gerber.com (accessed January 23, 2002).

Gerber Products Company. The Story of an Idea and Its Role in the Growth of the Baby Foods Industry. Fremont, MI: Gerber Products Company, 1953.

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