Released in the first quarter of 2000, Camel Turkish Golds were part of a maneuver by R.J. Reynolds (NYSE: RJR) to revitalize their Camel brand and reposition themselves in the cigarette market. At the time, Camels were still considered by many to be a brand to buy when you were too cheap to afford Marlboro - And an image like that certainly isn't flattering. By bringing to the American what was long a popular blend in Turkey, updating the aesthetics of the packaging, and initiating an aggressive marketing campaign geared at Marlboro smokers, Camel has been able to garner a significant increase in respect, a modest growth in repeat buyers, and at the same time, increased its stock price three and a half fold*.

This all started with the introduction of the Camel Turkish Gold blend. As has been the case since 1913, Turkish Golds are a marriage of American and Turkish tobaccos, selected for a sublimely smooth, subtly sweet flavor, with no wretched-tasting finish. This certainly lives up to the slogan that they're given, "Smooth and Mellow Turkish Blend." While much of the tobacco used in Turkish Golds is indeed of Turkish variety, all of it is grown here in the United States, on RJ Reyold's massive tobacco farms.

In line with their goal to woo Marlboro devotees, the Turkish Gold smokes much like a Marlboro Lights, however, they lack the slight woody aftertaste and are much sweeter in comparison. On a personal note, I was one of those Marlboro fans, smoking them for almost 3 years before a friend introduced me to Turkish Golds, after which, I haven't looked back.

The packaging of the Camel Turkish Golds stands out in stark contrast to the "Classic Blends" line of cigarettes. Where the Classic boxes are somewhat sparse in design, utilizing pale yellows, subdued blues, and minimalist design tendencies, the "Turkish Blends" line embraces more saturated colors and increased visual complexity. This makes them more appealing to their target market segment. Turkish Golds, specifically, are packaged in a flip top box, or hard pack, emblazoned with the classic Camel logo, set against a light gold bazaar scene replete with distinctly Turkish architecture. The top and bottom of the box are adorned with a royal blue border, which is lined with mildly reflective gold psis sandwiched between gold lines. The "Camel" brand name is done in the same hue of blue, and sports a gold border. The box is, truly, a work of art.

The cigarettes themselves stand out as well, featuring the same psi and line pattern in gold just before the filter. The filter itself, instead of being a single matte color, looks ornate and detailed, a gentle gradation between a medium and dark shade of tan. The cigarette, truly, is a work of art.

And ahhh, the flavor. I've already spoken of that. It bears repeating that it, truly, is a work of art.

The soothing and seductive Camel Turkish Gold only possesses 10 milligrams of tar and .8 milligrams of nicotine per cigarette, compared to 11 milligrams of tar and .8 milligrams of nicotine for Marlboro Lights. They are available in standard size and 100's. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Despite the fact that Camel Turkish Golds have been on store shelves since early 2000, RJ Reynolds still runs frequent promotions in gas stations nationwide. These promotions usually consist of a Camel representative who offers to "buy" a pack of Marlboro Lights off of a customer in exchange for four packs of Turkish Golds. If you see one of these Camel reps, it would be wise to buy a pack of Marlboro Lights, and then feign curiosity, inquiring why he was there. When he mentions he's buying packs of Marlboro Lights off people, you can declare in true "Cheesy 50's advertisement" fashion, "Well, I'll be, I just happened to buy a pack of those just a moment ago! What a coincidence!"

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Also, one may occasionally find a Turkish Golds display in stores, adorned with packs and packs of cigarettes, priced at buy 1, get 1 free, or buy 2, get 1 free. Technically, it's not entirely true, because the packs will ring up more than a single pack, but you'll pay significantly less than if you bought 2 normal packs separately, and 10 packs bought in this method will even cost less than a carton.

* Stock price from $20 (January, 2000) to $70 (April, 2002).