The Hustle

Baby food for adults was just as sad as it sounds

Three Gerber Singles glass jars labeled “Mediterranean vegetables,” “beef burgundy,” and “blueberry delight” on a blue and orange background.

Many Americans this week will indulge in a feast among family, whether they want to or not. But no matter how your Thanksgiving shakes out, it won’t be as sad as Gerber Singles.

In 1974, baby food behemoth Gerber decided to expand its offering to adults with Gerber Singles. The idea was that solo adults who weren’t interested in cooking could open up a jar of pureed ham casserole or sweet and sour pork and call it a meal.

“We were good for you then, we’re good for you now,” a slogan coaxed.

But why?

Business journalist Milton Moskowitz posited that Gerber — a company that once proudly stated that babies were its “only business” — was responding to a drop in the US birthrate.

At the same time, fewer people were getting married, meaning a lot of folks were eating at home alone.

Marketing was especially sad…

… specifying Singles were for “whenever you eat alone,” and lamenting how troublesome it was to cook for one’s self while ensuring the right amount of nutrients and avoiding food waste. And, ugh, who wants leftovers?

Unsurprisingly, people were not stoked to try pudding versions of savory meals. Singles lasted about three months before they were pulled from the shelves.

Today…

… people love a good smoothie, with some costing $20+. Perhaps if Gerber had stuck to fruity, nutty flavors, hadn’t sold them in little glass jars, and added a little bee pollen, they’d have been a hit.

Swapping baby food for real meals was also a recent fad diet — though presumably not a great one, as chewing is one thing that helps you feel full.

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