The Fanciful, Chocolate-Filled World of 2012 | History | Smithsonian
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The Fanciful, Chocolate-Filled World of 2012

In 1912, the French chocolate company Lombart printed a series of six collectible cards envisioning daily life one hundred years in the future.

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Flying machine of the year 2012 from Chocolat Lombart

With the year 2012 just around the corner, people from the year 1912 might be disappointed to learn that we don’t have ubiquitous rooftop airports or 8-hour trips to the moon.

In 1912 (a year best remembered for the sinking of the Titanic) the French chocolate company Lombart commissioned future-themed illustrated cards to be included with their confectionary. (The cards were produced by the Norgeu family of printers, who had a reputation in France for doing high quality work.) Some companies in the early 20th century often packaged promotional cards with their foodstuffs and tobacco. Consumers were encouraged to collect the entirety of a series, hopefully boosting sales of a particular product in the way that McDonald’s Happy Meal toys are sold and collected today. The series of six cards below was called “En l’an 2012″ which translates to “in the year 2012,” and are illustrated with that special brand of dirigible-laced whimsy that arists were so fond of in the early 20th century. The series has a lot of similarities to other promotional cards of the era, including cards produced for German chocolate company Hildebrands around 1900 and another series produced in France between 1900 and 1910.

Unsurprisingly, the Lombart cards share a common theme: How the technology of the future will enable the task of purchasing ever-larger quantities of Lombart chocolate.

Flying machine of the year 2012

This card pictured the flying machine of the future, with a man reminding his house staff not to forget the Lombart chocolate.

Picturephone of the year 2012

This card shows parents in France speaking to their son in an unspecified Asian country via picturephone. They assure their son that they’ll send him Lombart chocolates by way of aircraft soon.

Lombart chocolate delivery to London by airship

This card shows Lombart chocolate being delivered by airship from France to London.

Stopping off for some Lombart chocolate in 2012

A man tells the driver of a flying machine to stop for some chocolate.

A trip to the moon in the year 2012

This card shows people traveling to the moon in the year 2012. The trip was supposed to take just eight hours from Paris.

Underwater voyage in the year 2012

This card shows someone using an intercom, asking the submarine captain to stop at an underwater station so that they might pick up some Lombart chocolate.

These cards were found in the book The History of the Future: Images of the 21st Century by Christophe Canto and Odile Faliu.

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