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Daniel Frank Gerber

You guessed it? There was a man behind the famous baby food Gerber’s baby food. Daniel Frank Gerber (May 6, 1898 - March 16, 1974) was the American manufacturer of the baby food.

Daniel was born in Fremont, Michigan in 1898, the son of Frank Daniel Gerber and Pauline Dora Platt. Known by his friends as “Dan,” he received his education at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin.

He then attended the Babson College of business administration from 1919 to 1920 for a year. Later in 1920, he was employed at Fremont Canning Company. It's interesting to know that his father owned the canning company. Dan was a successful manager, and by 1926, he had become assistant general manager of the company.

It was at Dan’s urging that his father began the production of strained baby foods at the cannery in 1927. Dan and his wife Dorothy had an ill baby called Sally. Dan’s wife suggested that he persuade his father to begin making and selling the strained baby food.

Dan and his father contacted nutritional experts, distributed many samples, and conducted market research interviews before launching their product. The idea of strained baby foods was not entirely new, but the long-held American tradition was that babies generally were given a liquid diet until they were about a year old.

It was risky to introduce this new concept to the public, as they had no idea how mothers would react to their new idea.

In 1928 their canning company started advertising in Good Housekeeping, Parents Magazine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. Their task was to convince parents to adopt this new feeding concept. The campaign was a success and by the 1930s the canning company expanded to baby food lines.

Dan’s father died in 1952, and by the latter part of the 1950s, the company added three new plants, one in Ashville, North Carolina; one in Rochester, New York; and another in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Dan Gerber appeared as a contestant on the May 19, 1955, episode of the TV quiz program “You Bet Your Life,” hosted by Groucho Marx. This, of course, was free advertising for the company.

At Dan Gerber’s death in 1974, the company claimed it was the world’s largest baby-food manufacturer.


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