Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Belgian Pride?

Many years ago, travelling in Belgium, I heard a story in a pub about Camel cigarettes. This happy-go-lucky life-of-the-party soul pulled a packet from his pocket and proudly said that the designer of this packet was a Belgian and that he had left proof. I’m not a smoker but had a careful look at the packet and couldn’t see anything.

He asked me if I’d seen Manneken Pis near the main square in Brussels. Like all tourists, I had wandered pass and taken the obligatory snapshot. I didn’t have the heart to mention that I was a little underwhelmed as it was smaller than I thought it would be and looked a little worse for wear. Mind you, visitors thronged around it and flashlights shot like a movie star was walking down the red carpet.

There appear to be a number of stories surrounding the origin of the statue. The most popular holds that this small boy extinguished the fuses of explosives setup by an attacking army using the most natural of means, thereby saving Brussels.

Anyway, there is a claim that the creative artist behind the imagery on the packet of Camel cigarettes was a Belgian. He strongly disliked the head of marketing and to spite him, he hid an image of the famous Belgian symbol in the upper front leg of the camel to forever highlight Belgium in this cigarette's most enduring symbol. The folks at Camel have never confirmed this and consider it as nothing more than people’s imagination.

I couldn’t see the image until it was pointed out to me. Having stated that, there does appear to be a strong likeness - the right arm on the boys' hip and the left arm directing the flow.

What do you think? Can you see a likeness? Is it beyond a coincidence?


Lifecruiser said...

I really have no idea, but it sure is a very good story anyway :-)

Cecil Lee said...

Great point. They are really look alike to me and I did not realise that when I smoked Camel about ten years ago... :)

Quickroute said...

It could be true - I would believe more and more the longer I stayed in the pub!

Mark H said...

@lifecruiser: It is a good story

@cecil: I suspect smokers don't read the packets!

@quickroute: A few beers would definitely help.

John said...

I used to smoke Camels but I have never heard this story. Doesn't sound likely to me though the image has an uncanny resemblance.

Sherry Ott said...

What a great tale! Have you ever heard any more info on it's truth?

Mark H said...

@john: I think it may be true, but if not, it makes for a great story that has done its journey on the internet.

@sherry: I've never heard anything official but I tend to believe the story. Great tale either way.

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