Daniel Frank Gerber

Early life

Gerber, the subject of this article, went by the name "Dan" to his friends and relatives. He was born in Fremont
Fremont, Michigan
Fremont is a city in Newaygo County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 4,081 at the 2010 census.- History :The first inhabitants of the Fremont area were native Americans. A group of settlers led by Daniel Weaver first settled in the area in 1855. The Weaver homestead served as the...

 of Newaygo County, Michigan
Newaygo County, Michigan
Newaygo County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Grand Rapids–Wyoming, MI, Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 48,460. The county seat is White Cloud. Newaygo County was either named for an Ojibwe leader who signed the Saginaw...

, in 1898 – the son of Frank Daniel Gerber
Frank Daniel Gerber
Frank Daniel Gerber was an American manufacturer of baby food.- Early life :Gerber was born in the town of Douglas in Allegan County, Michigan in 1873. He graduated from Fremont High School of Western Michigan in 1887...


Mid life

Gerber was educated at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy
St. John's Northwestern Military Academy
St. John's Northwestern Military Academy was founded in 1884 as St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, by Rev. Sidney T. Smythe as a private, all-male college preparatory and leadership development school. In 1995, St. John's Military Academy merged with Northwestern Military and...

 in Delafield, Wisconsin
Delafield, Wisconsin
Delafield is a city in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, along the Bark River, and a suburb of Milwaukee. The population was 6,472 at the 2000 census....

. He attended the academy from 1913 to 1916. Gerber served in the army during World War I. He then attended the Babson College
Babson College
Babson College is a private business school located in Wellesley, Massachusetts near Boston.- History :Babson College was founded by Roger Babson on September 3, 1919, as the Babson Institute. It was renamed "Babson College" in 1969...

 of business administration from 1919 to 1920 for a year. Later in 1920 he hired in at Fremont Canning Company
Fremont Canning Company
Fremont Canning Company established the baby food enterprise of Gerber Products Company.-Founders:The company was founded by Frank Daniel Gerber and his father in 1901 in Fremont, Michigan. The canning company began with a ten thousand dollar investment. The firm initially marketed canned peas,...

 that his father owned. He was a successful manager and by 1926 he had become assistant general manager of the company.

Gerber began urging his father to begin the production of strained baby foods at the cannery in 1927. Daniel and his wife Dorothy had an ill baby called Sally
Sally Gerber
Sally Gerber is the daughter of Daniel Frank Gerber who established the baby food enterprise Gerber Products Company....

. Dan’s wife suggested that he persuade his father to begin making and selling at their canning company strained baby foods in order to end the chore of cooking, straining and preparing solid foods for babies.

Gerber with his father did some extensive research on this new concept. They 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. This new concept of strained baby foods would be going against the trend. It was risky to introduce this new concept to the marketplace as they had no idea how mothers would react on this new idea.

In 1928 their canning company started an advertising campaign in Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping is a women's magazine owned by the Hearst Corporation, featuring articles about women's interests, product testing by The Good Housekeeping Institute, recipes, diet, health as well as literary articles. It is well known for the "Good Housekeeping Seal," popularly known as the...

, Parents Magazine, the Journal of the American Medical Association
Journal of the American Medical Association
The Journal of the American Medical Association is a weekly, peer-reviewed, medical journal, published by the American Medical Association. Beginning in July 2011, the editor in chief will be Howard C. Bauchner, vice chairman of pediatrics at Boston University’s School of Medicine, replacing ...

, and other magazines. Their task was to convince parents to adopt new feeding concepts. The campaign worked and into the 1930s the canning company expanded its baby food lines.

Later life

In the 1950s the company that Gerber was now running, since his father died in 1952, added three new plants. One in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a city in and the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest city in Western North Carolina, and the 11th largest city in North Carolina. The City is home to the United States National Climatic Data Center , which is the world's largest active...

; one in Rochester, New York
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

; and another in Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is a Canadian city on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario. The municipality was incorporated on June 12, 1903...


Gerber expanded and diversified the company. He added a toy line in 1955 and had the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1956 for the first time. He also opened a Mexican subsidiary in 1959. In 1965 he added a large line of baby-related products.

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


  • Ingham, John N., Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders: A-G, Greenwood Press (1983); ISBN 0-3132390-7-X
  • Shapiro, Eileen C., Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: Managing in the Age of Instant Answers, Basic Books (1996), ISBN 0-2014419-5-0
  • Obituary, New York Times, March 18, 1974
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