Gerber Baby: Grandchild of Filipinos who served in the US Navy wins famous photo contest

Updated: July 25, 2023, 10:17 P.M.

Baby Madison’s story of love, resilience, adventure captures hearts of judges

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

Baby Madison “Maddie” Mendoza enjoys baby music music classes and fearlessly explores new foods like most babies in the US.

But her parents are from first-generation families from the Philippines and both of her grandfathers have served in the U.S. Navy. They arrived in America with very little.

Their journeys are a testament to resilience and love.

“Gerber has always believed in the magic of babies, and Maddie’s story, filled with love, resilience, and adventure, embodies the spirit of generations of Gerber babies,” said Tarun Malkani, Gerber President & CEO.

Maddie, who is almost 10 months old, was named recently as the 2023 Gerber Baby, an annual photo search of the baby food company that asked for submissions this year to include throwback photos of their parents.

Maddie’s parents Jun and Crystal Mendoza decided to submit a photo of Maddie and her mom wearing almost the same outfits along with their family’s amazing story.

Jun and Crystal Mendoza carry Maddie, whose two grandfathers served in the U.S. Navy, and came to America from the Philippines. (photo from Today.Com)

“Being a rainbow baby, Maddie has brought us immeasurable joy with every milestone, snuggle and moment spent with her enriching our lives and making every day more meaningful and beautiful,” said Crystal in a Gerber news release. “We look forward to witnessing her grow into a kind, compassionate, strong, independent and worldly individual as we hope to be stationed overseas again to teach Maddie about all the different parts of the world.”

As a U.S. Air Force Academy grad, dad Jun is now a Lieutenant Colonel physician in the Air Force and has been serving the United States for 16 years. Mom Crystal is a dentist, according to Gerber’s website. The two were high school sweethearts.

Launched in 2010, the photo search was inspired by countless photos sent by parents who see their little one in Gerber’s iconic baby logo.

To recall, the very first Gerber Baby—Ann Turner Cook, a former English teacher—died at age 95 in 2022.

Cook was selected to represent the brand in 1928, after a friend submitted a sketch of her face. Cook captured hearts and remained the official Gerber Baby for more than 90 years.

The iconic Gerber logo (right) was Ann Turner Cook, who was the face of the brand since 1928. (left photo AP, right logo from Gerber website)

This year’s Photo Search winner will be featured on Gerber’s social media channels and marketing campaigns.

Maddie and her family were also awarded a $25,000 cash prize, free Gerber products for up to one year, a new wardrobe provided by Gerber Childrenswear, as well as surprise perks from our partners.

Gerber will also match Maddie’s cash prize with a donation to support March of Dimes’ maternal and infant health programs.

“With Gerber’s continued support of March of Dimes’ maternal and infant health programs, together, we can make a lasting impact on maternal and infant health, ensuring that every baby has the best start in life,” said Kelly Ernst, SVP, Chief Revenue & Impact Officer

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