Gerber babies across the generations: First model meets new winner
You've come a long way, Gerber baby.
The newest face of Gerber, 8-month-old Mary Jane Montoya, joined the original (and still classic) Gerber baby, Ann Turner Cook, now 85, on TODAY this morning.
Mary Jane's parents, Sara and Billy, entered their baby in Gerber's Facebook contest, one of more than 300,000 hopefuls who entered to represent the brand in 2013. Mary Jane is their first child, and the Fresno, Calif. couple plan to put the $50,000 cash prize straight into her college fund.
"It took a little while to get that picture, too, because she would not stop looking at the grass and looking at the birds... of course we think our baby is adorable and beautiful, but every parent sees that in their child," Sara told TODAY's Natalie Morales, as Mary Jane bounced contentedly on her lap.
"It's so exciting, you're just bursting at the seams with pride for your daughter," Billy Montoya said.
Mary Jane won't replace the original Gerber baby: Ann's smiling face still graces the advertising campaign. She got her modeling start in 1927, when family friend and artist Dorothy Hope Smith asked her mother if she could use Ann as a model. Just like this year's search winner, Ann's image was entered into, and won, a nationwide contest. She became the first Gerber baby in 1928; in 1931, the portrait was trademarked, and she's been the face of every Gerber product ever since.
"It's been wonderful to me to be the symbol for babies," Ann told Natalie. "I can always be very proud of the product."
Ann now lives in Tampa, Fla., and she's the mother of four grown children. And truth be told, she still bears a resemblance to the rosy-cheeked baby on the food jars.
Natalie noted, "You still have those same cheeks and that sparkle in your eye, for sure."
Ann wholeheartedly approved of the new Gerber generation. Sitting next to the Montoyas as Mary Jane made funny faces for the camera, Ann told Natalie, "She is just adorable, and she is a delightful little person."
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