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Food Timeline FAQs: baby food

Peoples of all times and places have been feeding their babies. With the exception of mother's (or wet nurse's) milk, what was served and how it was made, was a function of culture, cuisine and economic status. Babies in Ancient Egypt thrived on different foods from those in Medieval England, Jomon Japan, 18th century Russia and early 20th century Kenya.

Up until the middle of the 19th century [in industrialized nations] infant food was generally made at home. Recipes and instructions for feeding babies were sometimes found in cookbooks. These foods were often grouped with invalid cookery. Why? They were generally thought to have similar properties. Both were highly nutritious and easily digested. Finely ground grains (oats, rice, barley) mixed with a liquid are found in most cultures. Example: Cookery for Children, Sarah Josepha Hale, 1852.

Food historians generally agree that manufactured baby food, as we know it today, was a byproduct of the European Industrial Revolution. The first mass-produced baby foods were invented by scientists/nutrition experts and manufactured in the mid-19th century by innovative companies. These were infant formulas, substitutes for mother's milk. At that time, tainted milk was often connected with infant mortality. Then, as now, there was much controversy regarding the use of artifical baby food. Ideas regarding amounts, timing, and what consitituted a healthy diet have likewise changed.

By the 1920s infant foods, which had grown to encompass ready-made baby cereals, fruits and vegetables, were promoted as convenience items. Food companies capitalized on "modern" notions of scientific feeding and the superiority of manufactured items over those homemade. Interestingly enough? American consumers did not immediately embrace these new foods. It took some very agressive marketing to win them over.

Some foods we regard today as sweets were originally marketed as health foods for children. Two cases in point: malted milk and chocolate pudding.

RECOMMENDED READING:

A SHORT SURVEY OF MANUFACTURED BABY FOODS THROUGH TIME

[1867] LIEBIG'S SOLUBLE FOOD FOR BABIES/LONDON
"Perhaps not surprisingly, a major step in capitalization on the new advances in chemistry by marketing proprietary infant foods came from the scientist who laid the foundations of the New Newtrition, Baron Justus von Liebig. If indeed foods were constituted of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, could these nutrients not be combined into a replica of mother's milk? Thus, in 1867 the Baron introduced Liebig's Soluble Food for Babies in the European market. By the next year it was being manufactured and sold in London by the Liebig's Registered Concentrated Milk Company and within a year after that it had migrated to the United States. Liebig did not challenge the prevalent notion that mother's milk was the perfect infant food. Rather, he claimed that he had succeeded in concocting a substance, at first liquid, then powdered, whose chemical makeup was virtually identical to that of mother's milk. Liebig's Food was soon followed by a host of imitators. Some contained dried milk and called only for the addition of water. Others, like Liebig's original formula, were to be added to diluted milk. Soon some doctors were proclaiming these foods to be superior to the milk of wet nurses."
---Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet, Harvey Levenstein [Oxford University Press:New York] 1988 (p. 122-3)

About Justus von Liebig.

[1867] NESTLE'S MILK FOOD/SWITZERLAND (powdered)
"In 1867, the Swiss merchjant Henri Nestle invented the first artificial infant food, and in 1873, 500,000 boxes of Nestle's Milk Food were sold in the United States as well as in Europe, Argentina, and the Dutch East Indies. By the late 1880s, several brands of mass- produced foods, mostly grain mixtures to be mixed with milk or water, were on the market. These included Liebig's Food, Carnick's Soluble Food, Eskay's Albumenized Food, Imperial Granum, Wagner's Infant Food and Mellin's Food. Mellin's was perhaps the most widely used."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, volume 1 (p. 57)

"In 1867, Henri Nestle, a pharmacist, was asked by a friend to make something for an infant who could not digest fresh cow's milk...Nestle created a milk food form crubs made from baked malted wheat rusks mixed with sweetened condensed milk. This granular brown powder was the first instant weaning food. He dalled his alternaive to breast-feeding Farine Lactee Henri Nestle and adopted his family's coat of arms, a bird's nest, as a trademark...Nestle sold his company to Jules Monnerat in 1874."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, volume 2 (p. 180)

[1874] MELLIN'S FOOD/United Kingdom
"The exhibits of Mellin's food in the Mechanics and Instituted exhibitions now in progress have attracted the attention of thousands of visitors, and the people are beginning to examine and discuss the suggestive topic which the displays suggest. Time and experience have put this food to a successful test, and its important bearing upon the rising and future generations cannot be oversetimated. Its history proves again that it is almost invariably the case that a really good article is slow in making its way into the favor of the public, but, when finally its excellences are known, its success is assured and the rapidity of its introduction marvellous. This is notably the case with the article which is known as Mellin's food, and which is now being so generally received into public favor. For years it has been a deplorable but acknowldged fact, that an alarming percentage of children die before reaching the age of five years. In England, the number of children that die under one year old is in the ratio of one to every twelve births...Liebig's food,...came the nearest to a practical solution of the difficult problem, but it was unsuitable for distribution and exportation, and much trouble and a sacrifice of time were entailed by its daily preparation. G. Mellin of London, following Liebig's suggestions, produced an article which is portable, easy of preparation, and which gives entire satisfaction. Mellin's food, requires neither boiling nor straining, that having already been done, but is almost instantly prepared for use by dissolving a certain quantity in hot water and then adding cold milk. Analysis of the food after mixing shows it to contain a large proportion of grape sugar, which enters so largely into the composition of mother's milk, together with a large amount of protein and soluble phosphates, indicating flesh and bone forming nutrients of the highest type...Thus sucenc e finally conquered all difficulties, and produced a food that all mothers will hail with delight. Not until 1874 did it make its appearance in this country, and then through the enterprises of Theodore Metcalf & Co., who, in response to the growing demand, obtained the North American agency. In order to supply the greatly increased demand in Europe and America for this food the proprietor was obliged to erect larger works, and since 1877 the food has been regularly supplied....The best medical men in the country now acknowledge its merits and prescribe it in cases where formerly they were almost helpless."
---"A Public Benefactor: An Exhibit at the Fair--Mellin's Food for Infants...", Boston Daily Globe, November 6, 1881 (p. 5)

"The Duty of Every Mother and especially those who are charged with the delicate and great responsibility of rearing hand-fed children, is to investigate the merits of the best artificial food for the preservation of infant life. The universal testimony of our most skillful physicians, and of thousands of mothers who have practially tested it, demonstrated beyond a doubt that Mellin's Food for Infants is the best, and contains exactly the ingredients necessary to insure the life and health of the little ones to develop them in body and mind, and secure robust health in childhood, manhood and womanhood."
---display ad, Theodore Metcalf & Co., 39 Tremont St., Boston Mass., "Sole agents for the United States and British America," Boston Daily Globe, April 11, 1880 (p. 30) [NOTE: this ad contains physican testimonials.]

"By the 1890s the most popular by far of the powders to be added to milk was Mellin's Food, developed in England and manufactured in Boston, whose advertisements claimed that it was "the genuine Liebig's Food," The best known of the dried-milk products was another European import, Nestle's Milk Food, which was manufactured and distributed under license by a New York City firm. Advertisements for various proprietary infant foods because well-nigh ubiquitious by the 1890s....Nestle's ("Best for Babies") said it was better for babies than milk, for "impure milk in hot weather is one of the chief causes of sickness among babies."...A favorite promotional technique was to offer free samples by mail to the readers of middle-class magazines. Perhaps the most effective with middle-class mothers...were the free handbooks on infant care feeding distributed by the companies. Mellin's with its own press, was especially active in this field. The handbooks explained the chemistry of milk and feeding in clear but relatively sophisticated language, adding an aura of science to the food they were promoting. Not only did they prove effective in convincing mothers of the efficacy of proprietary infant foods, they convinced many doctors as well...Thus, by the 1980s a number of sources spread the growing impression that artificial feeding was both scientific and modern."
---Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet, Harvey Levenstein [Oxford University Press:New York] 1988 (p.124)
[NOTE: This book contains much more information on this topic. If you need more details ask your librarian can help you obtain a copy.

How much did these powdered formulas cost? Advertisement published in the New York Times, Marh 30, 1884 (p. 3) states: Nestle's Milk Food, 70 cents--$1.00; mellin's Food, 30 cents-50 cents. Horlick's Food, 65 cents-$1.00.

Our survey of historic American newspapers reveals the Boston-based firm Dolibar, Goodale & Co. [41 Central Warf] was a distribtor for Mellin's in 1884. Articles and advertisements confirm Doliber continued to distribute Mellin's food at least until 1906.

[1893] AMERICAN DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS
"Farinaceous Foods. There are many farinaceious forms of food prepared fo r the use of infants and children. Probably the most valuable of them are those made according to the Leibig process. The starch of the grain from wich such foods are prepared is, int he process of manufacture, changed into soluble detrine, or sugar (glucose), by the action of the diastase of malt: the very thing which an infant cannot do. When we consider that the digestion of starch in the alimentary canal consists of this change into glucose, and that it is effected principally by the saliva and the pancreatic juice, the significance of the value of such foods will be seen...Mellin's food and malted mlk are prepared according to the Liebig process. in them the starch has been converted into soluble matter by teh action of the ferment of maltk. It is really a partial predigestion. Mellon's food does not contain milk...Mellin's food bears comparison with nilk. It is easily digested, and as an attenuant for milk may be used without harm during the early months of life, but it should not be used to the exclusion of milk for more than a few days at a time, and then only when milk is not retained by the stomach. Later it is doubtless a valuable addition to the regular daily food of the child. Malted milk is made form selected grain and desiccated or dried milk. To prepare it for the infant it needs only the addition of water. It is probably one of the best substitutes for milk but should not be used for any length of time when it is possible to get good milk....Nestle's food, Imperial Granum, Ridge's food, and some others are made very carefully from selected wheat by this process. Nestle's food contains dried milk. These foods are all valuable when made into gruel or porridge, but should be used very sparingly under the age of twelve months, and then only as attenuants ofr milk, not as substitutes for it. Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, editor of 'Domestic Hygiene of the Child,' by Uffelmann (a translation), in speaking of the value of the various preparations of infants' food on the market says: 'There is not the slightest reason to prefer them to milk or its preparations, except that the latter requires more care; and for any intelligent and affectionate mother this reason is quite insufficient."
---A Handbook of Invalid Cooking, Mary A. Boland [Century Co.:New York] 1893, 1898(p. 289-292)

[1924] SPECIAL INFANT FOODS
"Of the many patent infant and invalid foods on the market, some consist of cow's milk combined with varying amounts of carbohydrates of other materials and others seem to be made of starchy materials without milk. In some cases the carbohydrates have apparently been malted before being combined with milk, or else malt extract is added during the process of manufacture. Experience had shown that these special foods, when they contain nutrietns of milk, are sometimes valuable for infants when it is necessary to resort to artificial feeding. Too much faith should not be put in the extravagant claims made for some brands of infant foods. The safest course is to follow the advice of a competent physician in selecting the substitute for natural feeding. It is often wiser to use cow's milk, modified at home under a physician's direction, rather than these commercial foods."
---Milk and Its Uses in the Home, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin No. 1359 [Government Printing Office:Washington DC] revised January 1924 (p. 15) [NOTE: This booklet also states "That the best food for an infant is milk from a strong, healthy woman is admitted by everyone. When it is not obtainable, the more nearly the substitute resembles it the better. Cow's milk is the most common substitute, and when necessary may be artificially modified. Goat's milk, too, is in some cases recommened for infants." (P. 5)]

[1928] GERBER'S/United States
Gerber's launched its new baby food line in 1928 with a special promtion intended to get mothers to try the product and create a demand for the item in retail grocers stores: About Gerber's.

"1928: Danel Gerber improves baby foods with improved methods for straining peas and finds by a maket surey that a large market exists for such foods if they can be cold cheaply through grocery stores. Gerber advertises in Child's Life magazine and offers six cans for a dollar (less than half the pices of baby foods sold at pharmacies) to customers will send in coupons filled out with the names and addresses of their grocers."
---The Food Chronology, James Trager [Henry Holt:New York] 1995 (p. 455)

"By the late 1920s, commercially canned baby food was introduced and quickly adopted by American consumers. Conditions were favorable: advertising had become widespread, the cost of canned foods had fallen, and experts recommended the addition of fruits and vegetables to the infant diet. The Gerber Company initiated this revolution in infant feeding by expanding the scope of the canned foods industry. According to the Gerber company history, in 1927 Dorothy Gerber laboriously hand-strained vegetables for her seven-month-old daughter, Sally, and urged her husband, Daniel, to consider manufacturing stained baby food a the Gerber family's Fremont Canning Company. The next year, the company introduced strained peas, prunes, carrots, and spinach to the market. The Gerbers launched an advertising campaign featuring a sketch of an infant known as the Gerber Baby that ran in such publications as Good Housekeeping, The Ladies' Home Journal, the Journal of the American Dietetics Association, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Gerber Baby icon, drawn by Dorothy Hope Smith, became the company's official trademark in 1931."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 58-9)

Who was the original Gerber Baby?
Ann Turner Cook, the neighbor of Boston artist Dorothy Hope Smith. Ms. Cook grew up to be a teacher.

"The Gerber baby—the face that launched a brand The tousled hair, the bright eyes, the round, pursed lips. The Gerber baby is recognized all around the world. So who is this special baby? People polled throughout the United States surmised that the Gerber Baby had to have grown up to become someone famous: Guesses ranged from movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor to Senator Bob Dole. But mystery novelist and retired English teacher Ann Turner Cook knows the real answer. Because she is the Gerber Baby. The back-story on the Gerber Baby In 1928 Gerber was looking for a face to represent a baby food ad campaign. The baby Ann Turner Cook posed for artist Dorothy Hope Smith. Her simple charcoal sketch competed with lots of portraits, including elaborate oil paintings. (Smith offered to finish the sketch if it were accepted.) Whether it was the simplicity of the drawing or the cuteness of the baby (or both!), the judges fell in love with the adorable cherub face of Ann Turner Cook. They were so taken with it that Smith didn’t have to finish the sketch. Gerber used it just as it was. The illustration became so popular that Gerber adopted it as its official trademark in 1931. Since then the Gerber Baby has appeared on all GERBER packaging and in every Gerber advertisement, making Ann Turner Cook the world’s best-known baby image. Her sparkling eyes and inquisitive look personify Gerber’s commitment to happy and healthy babies all over the world."
Gerber's Heritage

"The most enduring urban legend about the famous Gerber Baby has to be the one about Humphrey Bogart. It's been said that the image on the labels actually was a diaper- clad Bogie, sketched lovingly by his artist mom. Trouble is, the tough-guy actor was already a grown man when the first Gerber jars appeared on store shelves in 1928. Ann Turner Cook -- the real, honest-to-goodness Gerber Baby -- has heard all the face tales. Her cherubic face as a happy infant is forever etched in time on every label of every Gerber product sold in 80 countries, one of the most famous and enduring trademarks in history. These days, Cook is an energetic 77-year-old fledgling novelist who's not above using her notoriety as America's most famous baby to drum up interest in her murder mysteries, featuring an erstwhile female reporter sniffing out intrigue in small Florida towns....The daughter of well-known comic strip artist Leslie Turner, Cook taught literature and writing in Tampa schools for 26 years and raised four children. Since retiring in 1989, she has published two novels regionally, with a third in the works. But Cook will no doubt always be best known for her picture on the Gerber labels. Cook was about 4 months old in 1927 when family friend Dorothy Hope Smith sketched the image in charcoal. Using a neighbor's baby as a model wasn't so unusual in the artist enclave of Westport, Conn., and nobody thought much about it. Least of all Cook's dad, who for 27 years wrote and drew "Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy," a daily comic strip that ran in 500 newspapers. The next year, Gerber put out the call for images that could be used in ads for its new baby food products, and Smith submitted the drawing. "She wrote me [later] that she had thought it was kind of unfinished, and if they liked it she could finish it properly," Cook said of the sketch. "But they were smart enough that they didn't want anything done to it." Her likeness started appearing on the products in 1928 and became the official trademark in 1931."
---"The Baby of Gerber's Family; for 75 Years, Ann Turner Cook Has Enjoyed Her Sketch of Fame," Mitch Stacy, Washington Post, February 29, 2004 (p. D1)

Recommended reading

[1931] PABLUM/CANADA

[1960s, USA]
"Fixing formula for your infant will soon be quicker and easier than pouring a glass of milk for your preschooler...If your pediatrician approves, you will be able to buy ready-to-serve formula at your grocery or drug store in disposible glass bottles, marked with ounces. The formula is already sterilized, will keep unopened without refrigeration and need not be warmed before feeding. All you have to do is replace the bottle's cap with a sterilized-sized collar. The ready-bottled formula...is due for national distribution within a few months...A carton of four four-ounce bottles is priced at 75 cents; of size ounce bottles, 87 cents; of eight ounce size, 99 cents...The same ready-to-serve formula has been available in cans since 1962, but most be poured into sterilized bottles before feeding. Coming on the market soon is kit which makes it possible to attach a nipple to the metal can for quick feedings. A new manufacturing process had to be developed, however, before the formula could be preserved in the glass bottles without refrigeration. The last dozen years have seen major changes in the way infants in the United States are fed. Only one mother in five now fixes the baby formul using the traditional evaporated milk mixed with carbohydrate modifiers, a mainstay of two-thirds of babies in 1952. Half of today's mothers now use a prepared infant formula, either a powder or liquid which is mixed with water, or the ready-serve formula poured from a can into sterilized bottles. The percentage has doubled in the last five years, was only 15 per cent in 1952. One baby in five, usually those past three or four months of age, gets whole cow's milk. Only one in 10 is breast fed, still the safest, most convenient and least expensive method of nourishing an infant. But even some breast-fed infants are ocasionally given formula as a supplement, or when the mother must be away from home at feeding time."
---"Feeding a Baby is Easier, But There Are Still Problems," Joan Beck, Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1964 (p. A2)

Pablum brand baby food
The *problem* with pablum is this is both a proprietary tradename with a patented formula AND a generic word used by many to describe any fortified grain-based baby cereal. Some people (who are not fond of such products) use the term to indicate any bland, porridge-type food.

Who developed Pablum?
"During the 1920s and 1930s, considerable time and effort were spent studying the science of artificial feeding. The scientific management of child-rearing in general - from food to behaviour advice - increased the professional role and authority of physicians in child care issues. Society seemed to welcome the scientific approach to infant feeding and food and bought products that advertised increased nutritional value for their children. In 1931, Pablum, an infant cereal containing necessary minerals and vitamins for children's health, became available in Canada and the United States. The food was heralded as an excellent cereal addition to the infant's diet and remains a popular infant food today. It was three Canadian doctors - Frederick Tisdall (1893-1949), Theodore Drake (1891-1959), and Alan Brown (1887-1960) - who developed Pablum at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. "
Source:
here

USA Patent & manufacturing
Mead Johnson secured US trademark rights in 1932 and patent protection in 1935:

"Harry H. Engel, a developer of Pablum baby cereal, has died at the age of 82. Mr. Engel, one of three patent holders on Pablum, died Friday at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. Mr. Engle worked 47 years for Mead Johnson & Company before retiring in 1967. Fourteen years after joining the company as a chemist, Mr. Engle helped develop Pablum, a soft, bland cereal for infants."
---"Harry H. Engel," New York Times, April 2, 1984 (p. D13)
[NOTE: Mr. Engel's patent is number 1,990,329, published February 5, 1935. The other people named in this patent are Lambert D. Johnson and Nathan F. True.]

Trademarks
According to the records of the US Patent & Trademark Organization, Pablum brand baby food was introduced to the American public by Mead Johnson June 4, 1932:

"Word Mark PABLUM Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 030. US 046. G & S: SPECIALLY PREPARED CEREAL FOOD CONSISTING OF A MIXTURE OF WHEAT MEAL, OATMEAL, AND YELLOW CORN MEAL, TO WHICH HAVE BEEN ADDED WHEAT EMBRYO, DRIED YEAST, POWDERED DEHYDRATED ALFALFA LEAF, AND POWDERED BEEF BONE PREPARED FOR HUMAN USE. FIRST USE: 19320604. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19320604 Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING Serial Number 71327942 Filing Date June 13, 1932 Current Filing Basis 1A Original Filing Basis 1A Registration Number 0297897 Registration Date October 4, 1932 Owner (REGISTRANT) MEAD JOHNSON & COMPANY CORPORATION INDIANA OHIO STREET AND SAINT JOSEPH AVENUE EVANSVILLE INDIANA Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED Type of Mark TRADEMARK Register PRINCIPAL Renewal 2ND RENEWAL 19721004 Live/Dead Indicator DEAD"

The US Patent & Trademark Office confirms Pablum brand baby foods were abandoned by Mead Johnson March 18, 1997. This indicates the company is no longer manufacturing a product with this name. The only "live" mark for Pablum in this database his held by private individual.

"Word Mark PABLUM Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 005. US 018 046. G & S: precooked, dried cereals specially prepared for infants and children Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS Design Search Code 26.03.21 - Ovals that are completely or partially shaded Serial Number 74579245 Filing Date September 23, 1994 Current Filing Basis 1B Original Filing Basis 1B Published for Opposition June 25, 1996 Owner (APPLICANT) MEAD JOHNSON & COMPANY CORPORATION DELAWARE 2400 West Lloyd Expressway Evansville INDIANA 477210001 Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED Attorney of Record Clark W. Lackert Description of Mark The drawing is lined for the color red. Type of Mark TRADEMARK Register PRINCIPAL Live/Dead Indicator DEAD Abandonment Date March 18, 1997

How was this product initially received?
"Competition from cheaper infoant food products has been growing, but the quality of Mead-Johnson's products and the goodwill of the medical profession which has been painstakingly developed and retained, places the company in a position from which it cannot easily be dislodged. Some new items, notably 'Pablum' cereal, recently added to the well-known line of specialty food products, have been well received."
---"Inquiring Investor," Wall Street Journal, April 12, 1934 (p. 8)


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14 July 2013