Prince Albert in a Can is a popular prank from the last century, which boasted a similar follower base, as the contemporary prank question Who Is Joe?
The prank itself refers to the tobacco brand Prince Albert which used to be sold in tin cans.
Pranksters would call stores and tobacco shops and ask whether they had “Prince Albert in a can”.
If the clerk responded with “Yes” then the caller would exclaim “Then let him out!” and hang up.
Prince Albert may also refer to a specific, notorious penile piercing.
Although the exact origin of the “Prince Albert in a can” joke is not known, the product was first released in 1907 by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, in the form of pipe tobacco coming in pouches, cans, as well as hand-rolled cigarettes, also in cans.
The brand was popular in the early 20th century, which might indicate that the gag was conceived around that period, although there is no evidence for the “Prince Albert in a can” appearing in print from that time.
Due to the fact that Price Albert tobacco was available in pouches as well as cans, the prank question was a logical everyday question to be asked, which led to the popularity of the joke.
“Prince Albert in a can” became a nationwide sensation in the United States, during the 1900’s being widely known by anyone born after 1940.
In the second half of the 20th century, the joke would be featured in several pop culture products, such as the 1990 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “It”, as well as “Batman: The Animated Series” and “The Simpsons”.
Today, “Prince Albert in a can” is an archaic joke, with most people either forgetting or trying to forget it.
Interestingly, the phrase is popular on e-bay where collectors are bartering for well preserved pieces of the product, as a collectible.
- Quora.com – What is the ‘Prince Albert in a can’ joke?