Compared to current cigarette pack design, Camels artwork stand out as unspeakably exotic. It is possible the speculation about the naked man on the cigarette pack stems from the comparison of the ornate look of the Camels’ artwork to the austere and streamlined forms of other current brands. A pack of Camels, these days, looks far different from its neighbors in the cigarette rack at the store, but that wasn’t always the case. Other brands no longer on the marketplace also featured ornately overdrawn images.
The Camel logo printed on each package is an American icon, part of the nation’s history since 1913. Notice the camel’s foreleg. There is a little man standing in the foreleg, looking to the right, his hand on his right hip, the elbow protruding to his side. His facial features are defined, as is his erect penis which protrudes in front of him. The Camel man in the foreleg turns out to be a dickie waver — quite a different image from that featured over so many years in Camel ads as the symbolic hero camped in the wilderness, a loner, a man free from the impediments and obligations of civilization.
Why name this brand of cigarettes after an exotic animal, the like of which most people in 1913 would not see with their own eyes during their lifetimes?
The brand came by its unusual name and romantic packaging due to that era’s mania for all things Egyptian. The camel and pyramids were pure Egypt and thus filled with mystery, but it wasn’t just the allure of faraway places which drew people in Victorian symbol, things Egyptian were inextricably linked to mortality. Such images were also linked to empire and power, especially since Napoleon’s sacking of the Nile. The pyramids had influenced entire schools of sepulchral and imperial design, so it’s not unreasonable they would influence a ground-breaking new brand of cigarettes.