Prince Albert (tobacco)

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1913 advertisement for Prince Albert tobacco.

Prince Albert is an American brand of tobacco, introduced by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1907.[1] It has been owned since 1987 by John Middleton Inc.[2]


Prince Albert is one of the more popular independent brands of pipe tobacco in the United States; in the 1930s, it was the "second largest money-maker" for Reynolds.[3] More recently, it has also become available in the form of pipe-tobacco cigars. (A 1960s experiment with filtered cigarettes was deemed a failure.[4]) The blend is burley-based and remains one of America's top-selling pipe tobaccos.

The tobacco was personally named by R. J. Reynolds after Edward VII, who was known as Prince Albert before being crowned King.[5] The portrait of Prince Albert was based on one acquired by Reynolds at a tea party with Mark Twain.[5]

Prince Albert's cigars are available in packs of 5. Prince Albert's pipe tobacco is available in 1.5 ounce pouches and 14 ounce tins.


Classic Prince Albert Crimp Cut Tobacco


  • Prince Albert's Soft Cherry Vanilla
  • Prince Albert's Soft & Sweet Vanilla

Pipe tobacco[edit]

  • Prince Albert
  • Prince Albert's Cherry Vanilla
  • Prince Albert's Soft Vanilla

"Prince Albert in a can"[edit]

The brand is the basis of a practical joke, usually made in the form of a prank call. The prankster typically calls a store and asks if they have "Prince Albert in a can." When the unsuspecting clerk responds "yes" (because the tobacco is typically packaged in a can, though other forms of packaging also existed), the caller follows up with, "Well, you'd better let him out!" or "Then why don't you let him out before he suffocates!?"[6][7] Another, more crass form of this call went "Do you have Prince Albert in the can?" When the respondent said "yes," the caller rejoined, "Well let him out before he drowns!"

In pop culture[edit]

  • The joke was used in the 1990 horror miniseries Stephen King's It in a scene where Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Tim Curry) taunts Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson). Invisible to everyone but Richie, Pennywise says to him, "Excuse me, sir. Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do? Well, you better let the poor guy out!"
  • In "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Phony Calls" (a parody of TLC's "Waterfalls") from the Bad Hair Day album, the lyrics include the reference "Little Melvin has a natural obsession/Askin' for Prince Albert in a can/He gets a kick each time he makes a collect call/To some guy he doesn't know who lives in Japan".
  • In Death Masks by Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden makes an offering of Prince Albert tobacco to a loa he'd summoned. Later, Molly Carpenter tricks their Russian friend Sanya into prank-calling a number of stores, under the guise of helping Harry with his shopping list. Sanya doesn't understand why asking if they have "Prince Albert in a can" causes people to hang up.
  • In the Family Guy (season 2) episode "Fifteen Minutes of Shame", Stewie makes the stereotypical prank call to a talk show called The Diane Show.
  • Brendan Fraser's character buys Prince Albert pipe tobacco while stockpiling supplies in the film Blast From the Past.
  • In Retail (comic strip) on 3-11-11 Cooper takes a call for Prince Albert in a can. Assuming it is a joke he hangs up, only to notice that the store does in fact sell "Prince Albert" in a can.
  • In the Wings (NBC TV series) episode Airport '90, Lowell calls Faye from within the terminal in an attempt to prank her using the Prince Albert in a can joke.
  • In Futurama episode '31st Century Fox', Bender is asked if he is of noble bearing, and responds "Well, I am descended from Prince Albert's can."
  • In Season 2, Episode 1 of The Venture Bros., "Love-Bheits", one of the members of the Ünderland resistance movement is shown making the joke as part of a training exercise.
  • In an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Brad Sherwood parodies Alexander Graham Bell's first phone call with the joke.[8]
  • In Series 6 Episode 17 of Cheers "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" Woody asks Frasier to use the joke if Rebecca answers the phone.
  • In Season 1, Episode 6 of the Powerpuff Girls, after Big Billy of the Gangreen Gang botches a prank call, Ace grabs the phone and says "Prince Albert... the Fridge!"
  • In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory, one of Dexter's experiments starts carrying away the fridge. Mom calls out to Dad, "Honey? The refrigerator's running!" Dad, in the bathroom, replies, "And Prince Albert's in the can!" (at which a stereotypical prince pops out of the toilet).
  • In an episode of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch", Aunt Zelda prank calls a shop and asks for 'Prince Albert in a can." When she hangs up, the shopkeeper opens a can and finds a tiny Prince Albert inside.
  • In an early comic of Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! on of the first contact with aliens consist of the aliens asking if the station has Price Albert in a can. Brewster, however, mentions that they do.
  • In the episode "Bloo's Brothers" of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, one of Bloo's knock-off clones prank calls Mr. Herriman asking "Do you have Prince Albert n a can?" Mr. Herriman responds, "I don't understand the question." The imitation Bloo still replies with the expected "You'd better let him out!"
  • The Van Dyke Parks song Clang of the Yankee Reaper references the tobacco with the line "The sun never set on the Empire / Prince Albert came in a can."
  • In the episode "The Deadly Dares" of Happy Days, Potsie is told to use this joke on a prank phone call as part of a hazing ritual.


  1. ^ "International Directory of Company Histories". Thomson Gale. 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  2. ^ Associated Press (July 7, 1987). "R.J. Reynolds Sells 2 Tobacco Brands". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  3. ^ "Pipe Dream Girl". TIME magazine. November 23, 1931. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  4. ^ "Where There's Smoke There's a Filter". TIME magazine. November 18, 1966. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  5. ^ a b Bryan Burrough. Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco. HarperCollins. p. 44. 
  6. ^ Transcript of Interview with Prince Albert of Monaco, CNN Larry King Weekend, September 15, 2002
  7. ^ Penny Candy and Radio in the Good Old Days, By Tony Stein, The Virginian-Pilot, October 23, 1994
  8. ^ Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Season 4. Episode 10. ABC Family.