History of gerber baby foods

Gerber Baby Food | Encyclopedia.com


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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

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.

Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America

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About – History – Gerber Foundation

Established in 1952 as the Gerber Baby Foods Fund by Daniel Gerber, Sr. and Gerber Products Company, the Foundation provided $14,700 in support to various organizations during the first year of operation. While the Gerber name may imply a strict interest in infant nutrition, Dan Gerber felt a commitment to a much broader range of activities. In those early years, grants were provided to such organizations as the American Red Cross, Americas Future, 4-H Clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Fire Protection Association, among others. Small grants were also awarded to various community agencies within communities where Gerber Products Company had a presence. Beginning in 1953, scholarships were provided to a wide variety of institutions across the United States as well as to dependents of Gerber Products Company Associates.

Dan Gerber’s interest in agriculture, education, infant care, and youth programs is evident through the long list of donations made in these early years and throughout the Foundation’s history. These interests are still reflected in the Foundation’s grant-making programs today.

The name of the Foundation was changed to The Gerber Companies Foundation in 1985 to more accurately reflect the status of the company with its many subsidiaries. In 1994, The Foundation became a separately endowed, private foundation when Gerber Products Company merged with Sandoz Ltd. In 1997, the name was changed to The Gerber Foundation.

Although outside the bounds of normal grant-making parameters, the Foundation has responded to the needs of children in several critical emergency situations, including:

  • 1995, the University Hospital in Oklahoma City for support and care of the youngest victims of the Oklahoma City bombing
  • 2001, Mercy Corps to support children affected by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center after 9/11
  • 2005, Mercy Corps and Save the Children to support children’s needs in the Southeast Asia region after an earthquake and tsunami devastated that area
  • 2005, a series of gifts were provided to support children’s activities and relief efforts in the U. S. Gulf region as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
  • 2010, a children’s hospital and an orphanage in Haiti after a devastating earthquake
  • 2014, support for children’s health and relief efforts following typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
  • 2017, a series of grants to hospitals and other agencies affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Michael in Florida and Texas

Of special note is the long-established relationship with DeVos Children’s Hospital in nearby Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1973, the Hospital Chief of Staff of what was then Butterworth Hospital requested a visit with Daniel Gerber. Butterworth Hospital was interested in building the first-ever Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in West Michigan. As the story goes, the Hospital Chief of Staff arrived at the headquarters of Gerber Products Company with pictures of premature babies. He told the board what they were already doing with these small infants and shared his dream of what could be done. By the end of the presentation and in tears, Dan Gerber asked how much money the hospital needed. The rest became history. Dan Gerber turned and asked the Foundation Trustees to provide a gift for that NICU, originally named the Gerber NICU. Although Dan Gerber never lived to see the completed unit, we feel that he would have been very proud of this accomplishment. The Foundation has maintained a special relationship with DeVos Children’s Hospital since then, providing numerous additional gifts in support of their ongoing efforts for children. In 2006, a gift of $5 million was made for the NICU as part of a capital campaign for a new children’s hospital. This new hospital included an expansion of the NICU to over 90 beds.

In 2002, at the 50-year anniversary of the Foundation, and as a means of honoring its founder, The Gerber Foundation created a new scholarship program for local youth. The scholarships, called the Daniel Gerber, Sr. Medallion Scholarships are provided to graduates of the five school districts within Newaygo County. The first scholarships were awarded in 2003, the 50-year anniversary of the Foundation’s first scholarship program.

To celebrate 60 years of giving, in 2012, the Foundation hosted a luncheon for 12 long-standing recipient organizations of the Foundation. Each was surprised with a gift of $14,700 for their commitment to the community and to improving the lives of children. The recipients included the Newaygo Area District Library, Fremont Area District Library, Grant Area District Library, White Cloud Community Library, Hesperia Community Library, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Newaygo County Agricultural Fair, Gerald R Ford Council BSA, TrueNorth Community Services, Newaygo County Prevention of Child Abuse, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Hospital, and Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency.

Daniel Gerber, Sr
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Our history | Nestlé Baby&Me

More than 85 years ago none of the Gerber family could have imagined that with the light hand of a caring mother and wife Dorothy Gerber her husband's small cannery in the US state of Michigan would become famous all over the world. Today, Gerber ® baby food is known to parents all over the world.


The history of the company began in the kitchen, where young mother Dorothy Gerber, wife of a cannery owner hand-mashed for their seven-month-old daughter Sally. The labor-intensive process took a lot of time and effort - this gave Dorothy an idea:

“If a factory can make mashed vegetables for

adults, then it will be able to make ready-made mashed potatoes for children”

After conducting the necessary research, consultation with nutritionists, doctors and economists in 1927 a trial batch of the product was produced.


By the end of 1928, , after the new product was approved, five varieties of Gerber® baby puree were produced. every major grocery store anywhere in the US.


Gradually Gerber® puree became known all over the world

Parents appreciated not only high palatability of ready-made food, but also a significant saving of one's own effort and time compared to the usual way of preparing baby food.

Two years earlier, the company held a competition for

The best illustration for advertising Gerber®


in a figure sent by by the artist Dorothy Hope Smith , an unfinished portrait of a little girl - Anna Turner, the daughter of an author’s neighbor.

Advertising with this illustration was so successful that since 1931 the portrait of the girl's face becomes the official logo of the Gerber brand ® , registered as a trademark.


Gerber® experts were among the first to offer a product of impeccable quality, that meets all the needs of young gourmets and is completely safe.

Tempered glass , which is used to make puree jars, makes it possible to apply heat treatment methods that destroy harmful microbes.


The company's specialists have developed the first ever baby food cap with a special tab - an indicator of tightness.

When the lid is opened for the first time, a characteristic popping noise is heard, which helps parents to determine the freshness of the baby puree.

Since 1936, Dorothy Gerber began to personally answer

every letter that came to the company's address.


And in 1968, Gerber® launched a single 24/7 telephone line, the Care Line, where parents could call and ask their questions to Gerber® experts at any time.

In the US, the line receives approximately 800,000 calls each year.


Gerber ® manufactures approximately 500 products that can be purchased in more than 30 countries worldwide.

According to a 1998 US study, consumers trust the Gerber® brand more than any other brand.


In Ukraine, the product range is represented by more than 30 items, among them are fruit, vegetable, meat and vegetable purees, fruit juices, meat purees, fruit purees in soft packaging, organic fruit purees.

Ukraine also has a “Care Line”:
specialists working on it respond to more than
50 requests from Ukrainian mothers every month.

how baby puree is made - the lion's share of city news

The world famous baby food brand Gerber® has launched a new website where you can get comprehensive information about baby food purees. The main goal of the project is to provide parents with an opportunity to trace the entire path of puree from the farm to the store shelf: where the crop is grown, how the product is produced, how its quality is ensured and monitored, and under what conditions it is stored.

“One of the most important stages in a child's life is the introduction of complementary foods. It affects the further health and formation of taste preferences, which often persist for life. We know that parents choose the best for their children and take their baby's nutrition seriously. It is really extremely important for them to understand what parameters to choose products, what it consists of or where it is produced. For these purposes, the specialists of the Gerber® brand have launched a new website. Now moms and dads will be able to get comprehensive information about Gerber® puree – all the stages of its production and useful properties,” commented Sofia Bryantseva, Leading Nutritionist at Nestlé Russia.

The complementary feeding phase is a “critical window” for developing food tolerance and preventing micronutrient deficiencies. Vegetable complementary foods are recommended to start with monocomponent purees, which are in the Gerber® baby food line, a well-known brand with more than 90 years of history.

For example, Gerber® marrow puree is made from vegetables grown on farms in the Ebro Valley, the Ribera del Douro and Alicante. The fields are located very close to the processing workshops - no more than three hours pass between harvesting and fruit processing, which guarantees the maximum preservation of the useful properties of fresh zucchini.

By the way, marrow is a very difficult vegetable to use in the production of complementary foods. To produce a puree that meets Gerber®'s exacting standards, the nitrate levels and water content of the zucchini flesh must be carefully controlled. To do this, the company has developed a special strategy for their cultivation and preparation. When harvesting and processing zucchini, the level of nitrates is measured: if the slightest deviation from the norm is found, the entire batch of raw materials is removed from production until a new crop arrives. That is why in some seasons zucchini puree is not on sale.

On the website of the project nestlebaby.ru/traceability/gerber you can find other interesting facts about the production, storage, disposal of products and quality control.

Visitors to the site will be able to learn how a new product is developed, what are the benefits of purees recommended for first foods, and why Gerber® only works with certain vegetable and fruit suppliers.

Learn more