In 1931, Gerber began using a charcoal drawing of a little girl named Ann Turner Cook as its logo, and for most of the company’s history its ubiquitous baby food has been linked to the smiling White baby girl.
That homogenous branding began to change in 2010, when Gerber—a subsidiary of massive conglomerate Nestlé—recognized that changing racial demographics in the United States might require new marketing tactics. As a result, Gerber began choosing one “spokesbaby” each year to appear in a series of ads, expanding the rainbow of ethnicities associated with the brand. In 2018, an adorable baby boy named Lucas made history as the first Gerber baby contest winner with Down syndrome.
Now 1 year old Kairi Yang from Hickory, North Carolina, is adding to the history book as the first Gerber baby of Hmong descent. The Hmong people are an ethnic group from East and Southeast Asia, and while they straddle national borders, their culture is deeply rooted in family bonds. As Kairi’s mother, Ying Vue, told the hosts of Today on Tuesday (February 26): “Hmong in our eyes is all about the close bonds we have with our relatives during life and afterlife.”
While Kairi is an only child, she is being raised in a home shared by her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, and will learn to read and write in the Hmong language. “Being surrounded by all her family has been a very positive influence on Kairi’s life, especially when it comes to preserving our culture and tradition,” added her mom, whose family is from Thailand. Kairi was chosen from a pool of more than 544,000 applicants. Her family will receive $50,000, and she will appear in promotional posts on Gerber’s social media throughout 2019.