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Camel cigarettes were introduced in the United States in 1913 by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. A pioneering brand in the American marketplace, it became Reynolds' first major cigarette brand and the first nationally marketed cigarette in the United States. It was the first cigarette in the United States to use a blend of Turkish, Virginia, and Burley tobaccos, which proved to be enormously popular with the smoking public and would spawn many competitors (the first of which, Lucky Strike, was introduced in 1916). Camels were also the first manufactured cigarette to be sold in packages of twenty--prior to 1913, cigarette smokers rolled their own, and there was thought to be no market for pre-made cigarettes.

One part of Camel's success was the combination of high quality tobaccos along with the brand's low price (originally 10 cents for a package of 20). Until the 1950s, Camels were consistently the top- or second-selling brand (Lucky Strikes being their nearest competition). Indeed, the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where the R. J. Reynolds factory was located, was nicknamed "Camel City" owing to the brand's popularity. Their blend was harmonized in a way that provided a balanced nicotine content and which smoked considerably easier in contrast to the much harsher brands popular in the 1910s and 1920s.

Before their official launch, Reynolds launched a careful advertising campaign incorporating 'teasers' which stated that "the Camels are coming!" This new marketing style was, in fact, a prototype for attempts to sway public opinion and to generate excitement. Another promotional strategy employed was the use of a circus camel, named Old Joe, which was driven through towns and villages by men who distributed free cigarettes.

Old Joe was used as the model for the camel on the package. It's interesting to note that though Old Joe was of Egyptian origin, Turkish archives make the claim that the camel on the package is a symbol of gratitude by the Americans to the Turkish for the latter's donation of 34 camels to the American Army in 1854.

Advertising has been a key feature of Camel's success over the years. Famous advertising themes and slogans from years past include "the 'T' Zone (T for taste and T for throat)," "more doctors smoke Camels than ever before!," "I'd walk a mile for a Camel!," and "Camel's real taste satisfies longer." In 1987, an advertising firm created Joe Camel, a cartoon-ish version of the camel which appeared on the packaging. The character became something of a focal point for anti-smoking groups, claiming that Reynolds Tobacco were slyly marketing their cigarettes to children; indeed, a 1991 study from the American Medical Association found that children recognized Joe Camel more than they did Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Barbie. The mascot was retired from use in 1997.

From 1972-1993, Camel was the title sponsor of the popular International Motor Sports Association auto racing series known as the Camel GT. It also sponsored the Lotus Formula One team from 1987 to 1991, and the Benneton and Williams teams from 1991 to 1993. Also during the nineties, Camel sponsored the factory Honda team in the AMA Superbike series and the Supercross Championships.

Nowadays, Camel cigarettes represent three different families of flavor--Classic, Turkish, and Exotic Blends. The Classic styles, which represent the bulk of the brand's business, offer rich tobacco taste. Camel cigarettes' Turkish family offers smooth and mellow versions of the brand's distinctive flavor. Camel Exotic Blends, a line of premium-priced, limited-edition luxury blends, offer adult smokers indulgent taste signatures.

Camel is today one of the top five global cigarette brands, sold in over 90 countries worldwide. For the Canadian market, they have been imported from the United States by J. T. I. Macdonald, which was formerly owned by R. J. Reynolds. While the non-filtered variety is no longer available for sale in Canada, the filter and light varieties are still for sale.

Camel Cigarette Packs

You can trace the history of Camel cigarettes and have a look at it by viewing the packs of the Camel brand listed below:

American and International Camel packages

Classic Blends

Turkish Blends

Exotic Blends

American Camel collectors' packages

International Camel collectors' packages

External Links

Camel Collectors' Sites

Vintage Print Advertising

Vintage Television Advertising

See Also

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