For 90s years, the Gerber company has been choosing a "spokesbaby," to be the face of the brand.
The selection process happens through a contest, which they have been running since 1928. Back then, a woman named Dorothy Hope Smith submitted a charcoal drawing of her neighbor's daughter to the contest.
The original Gerber baby
The image came out as winner, and was trademarked in in 1931. The drawing became one of the most recognizable logos in the world, but many people still had no idea who the baby behind it was.
Turns out, the baby, Ann, was the daughter of the cartoonist behind Captain Easy, Leslie Turner. Smith drew the photo when Ann was just five months old.
Ann Turner Cook has been the face of Gerber's baby food for the better part of a century, but she is now 91 years old. Her identity was kept private until the 50th anniversary celebration in the 70s, and she has embraced the spotlight ever since.
Most of the winners of the Gerber contest aren't nearly as famous as Ann, but there's one who has created a similar buzz when he was chosen out of a pool of 140,000 contestants earlier this year.
The 2018 winner
One-year-old Lucas Warren from Georgia was announced as the winner of the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby contest, and he instantly made history.
He became the first child with Down syndrome to win the famous contest.
“Lucas’ winning smile and joyful expression won our hearts this year, and we are all thrilled to name him our 2018 Spokesbaby,” Bill Partyka, president and CEO of Gerber, said in a statement. “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby, and this year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”
As winner, his family will be awarded $50,000 and Lucas will be featured on Gerber's social media pages all year long.
His mother, Cortney Warren, is especially glad that this will shed "light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world — just like our Lucas."
But they aren't the only ones who are excited to have Lucas become part of the Gerber family. Original spokesbaby Ann said she was "delighted" to welcome the toddler into the family.
"I know you will take great pride in representing Gerber this year, as I have for the past 90 years," she said. "There is no greater privilege than to be a universal symbol for babies all over the world. I am delighted to take part in this celebration. Lucas is precious, and I look forward to watching him grow this year!” she said in a statement.
Now, four months after Lucas's debut as the face of Gerber, he has finally had the chance to meet Ann!
An adorable pair
Lucas and his family were in Tampa for vacation, and since Ann has lived in the area after retiring as an English teacher, Gerber arranged for the pair to meet.
"As soon as we walked into the room, (Ann) and Lucas immediately bonded," Cortney and her husband, Jason, wrote in a statement to Today.com “Lucas walked right up to her, flashing his signature smile and waving, and we could tell he loved her right away.”
They added that Lucas then grabbed two cookies and offered one to Ann. Of course, she took it.
Ann's grandson, writer Chris Colin, posted a photo of the adorable meeting on Twitter, and described the encounter as "Pretty pretttty cute."
"My grandmother was the Gerber baby," Colin wrote in the caption. "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."
As for Lucas's parents, they had nothing but high praises for Ann.
"Ann Turner Cook is truly a wonderful woman and pleasure to be around, and we couldn’t be more grateful that she took the time to meet with our family,” the proud parents concluded.
We have a feeling these two will be meeting up again pretty soon, and we're looking forward to it!