Three Ads for Puzzled Fathers of Rather Young Children

Black and white photo from a 1933 advertisement that shows the head of a man surrounded by the words: To puzzled fathers of rather young children.

To puzzled fathers of rather young children:

“If you’ve had to exchange a charming wife for a tired mother who spends endless hours in the kitchen dutifully scraping, stewing and straining vegetables for your child–you’ll be glad to read this story.

Five years ago Mr. Dan Gerber faced the same situation, and knowing a great deal about vegetables he set out to solve this problem.

The result was Gerber’s Strained Vegetables Products–now widely prescribed by physicians everywhere.”

–From a 1933 advertisement for the Gerber Products Company, via the Duke University Library digital collection (the remainder of the ad text is straight baby food marketing copy).

Gerber Products Company was just six-years-old at the time this ad was made. According to Wikipedia, Dan Gerber owned a canning company making canned fruits and vegetables. He got the idea to make baby food when his wife began hand-straining food for their 7-month-old daughter. According to Duke University Library, that photo is indeed the puzzled Mr. Gerber.

Mothers welcome new Heinz strained meats. Babies enjoy their flavor! First in glass jars. (circa 1954)

Photo of six jars of Heinz baby food from a 1953 print advertisement.

Check out the names on those Heinz baby food jars… beef, beef heart, lamb, liver and bacon, liver (plain), and pork. Mmmm, pork: the only white meat in 1954, apparently.

Image of a metal can of Heinz Creamed Tomato and Rice for Young Children.

Okay, I readily admit I am a puzzled father. Here is one more Heinz ad, titled, “A dozen quick and easy ways to solve a toddler’s mealtime problem.

In 1941, the novelty of glass jars wasn’t yet a novelty. Here we see Heinz promoting 12 canned Junior (toddler) Foods.

Main dishes:
1. Creamed diced vegetables with rice and yeast concentrate.
2. Creamed diced potatoes with onions and yeast.
3. Creamed tomato and rice with vegetables, whey powder.
4. Chicken farina vegetable porridge with milk, wheat germ and yeast.
5. Lamb and liver stew with milk and cereals.

Mind you, those aren’t side-of-the-can fine-print ingredient listings. Yeast concentrate is a yummy additive to promote in a magazine ad.

6. Chopped carrots
7. Chopped spinach
8. Creamed green vegetables
9. Chopped mixed vegetables

10. Pineapple rice pudding
11. Prune pudding
12. Apple, fig and date dessert

How many of those foods do you feed your baby or toddler?

At 10 months, the closest I get is steamed carrots, bits of potato and diced prunes. I’m not even sure what apple, fig and date dessert is. I don’t want to know if any Thinga-readers feed their kids liver or lamb. Or beef hearts for that matter.


9 Responses to “Three Ads for Puzzled Fathers of Rather Young Children”

  1. Kimberly says:

    We are beef heart family all the way! Yum. Maybe I’ll whipped some up for breakfast!

    February 6th, 2009 at 9:00 am

  2. KGS says:

    We tried to switch from separate baby foods to finely minced bits of whatever we were eating as quickly as possible, so our daughter did have things like lamb, beef tongue, and chicken curry pretty early in life. I can’t say a canned version sounds very appealing, though– meat baby food always sounded gross to me for some reason, so we never bought any.

    In case anyone was wondering, despite our best efforts this early exposure to adult food has not stopped her from getting a wicked hot dog and mac n’ cheese addiction at age 3. Sigh.

    February 6th, 2009 at 9:19 am

  3. anastasiav says:

    I don’t get the yeast thing either.

    Potatoes, Tomato, Rice, chicken, wheat germ, Lamb (my son loves lamb), carrots, spinach (wouldn’t touch it), Pineapple, Rice, prunes, Apples and figs are all things I at least attempted to feed my son while he was in the baby-food stage. I make a good desert that has apples, figs, and dates in it, but its a little too .. seedy .. for baby food. Very sweet, though.

    February 6th, 2009 at 10:03 am

  4. Pippin says:

    Liver and Bacon??????

    Those poor children. Is it any wonder they started a cultural revolution in the late 60s?

    February 6th, 2009 at 10:21 am

  5. June says:

    Well, as a veggie family, we eat nutritional yeast often (mostly in a garlic sauce), and it is super yummy AND very nutritious. So if that’s what it’s referring to, then I understand it. Of course we didn’t feed it to our daughter when she was a baby, but then, she really didn’t eat much besides breastmilk (and an occasional slice of fruit or veggie) before she was a year old.

    February 6th, 2009 at 10:23 am

  6. Marie says:

    We fed / feed our daughter lamb as frequently as we can afford it. Like the poster above, I tried to keep the “babyfood” stage as short as possible, and was always sort of skeeved out by “meat” babyfoods. I think we were feeding her minced up table meats of whatever we were eating by 9 or 10 months.

    I think the food shown are reflective of the cultural change in foods. We don’t eat liver or heart, so we don’t feed the kids liver or heart. I don’t cook tongue, but will order it in a restaurant.

    February 6th, 2009 at 2:06 pm

  7. Kimberly says:

    I just want to be clear that my first post was sarcasm.

    I am in my first trimester of my second pregnancy and I could barely even type that out with out gagging. I am having major meat aversions.

    February 6th, 2009 at 3:32 pm

  8. Tracy says:

    We live in Australia and lamb is our national meat. We probably have lamb twice a week. My family also loves liver, but that isn’t an Australian thing. It is something I was raised eating and I still like it. Believe it or not my daughter gets excited when she knows we are having liver and onions for dinner.

    February 8th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

  9. Jen M says:

    Yeast = boost in B vitamins

    As for the meat heavy baby foods, this was before mass vitamin supplementation of flours and cereals which didn’t start until the 1950s? At this point in history, babies were started on cereals and pureed foods really early right? What was the state of baby formula? . . . When was it that science decided babies needed much more iron than they were getting in breastmilk ( which was, of course, really a formula problem ( I think it all makes sense in that context.

    Anyway, we’re raising a little vegetarian here (she can decide for herself later, I’m just not cooking it), with fabulous iron levels, by the way. She hates carrots – don’t know why but she will not eat them if they are identifiable in any way. I don’t think she’s ever had spinach straight. We serve it in smoothies (the only thing we have ever pureed, by the way) and chopped in other things: stirfry and indian food mostly. At 15 months, she eats a pretty wide variety of food, spices too in spite of conventional wisdom of feeding babies bland stuff.

    February 9th, 2009 at 4:18 am

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