The Gerber baby is one of the country’s best-known marketing images; the picturesque infant has graced the packages of the popular baby food since 1928. Earlier this decade, though—with the original Gerber model, Ann Turner Cook, now 91—the company started running Facebook contests to pick the new Gerber baby. Although the company obviously keeps all that historic packaging intact, the 21st-century Gerber babies essentially act as spokesbabies for the brand during their tenure (they also receive a $50,000 stipend).
Today announced this week that the latest winner of the contest, Lucas Warren, is winning accolades for his smile and also for bringing a wider diversity to the Gerber lineup: He’s the first Gerber baby in the company’s 91-year history to have Down syndrome.
Lucas hails from Dalton, Georgia; his parents entered his picture in the contest, where he was selected from 140,000 applicants. As company president and CEO Bill Partyka 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.”
Katie Driscoll, president of a non-profit that advocates for equal representation of people with disabilities in media, told Today, “We believe if brands represent children with a disability, they are communicating their value to our society. Moves like this move us closer to a more inclusive world.”
Lucas’ dad told Time magazine: “I just want him to look back and say, ‘I was the Gerber baby. Look at everything I did.’”