Comfort Food, Comfort Blends

Christopher Morley

We all know what comfort food is. I should encounter no controversy when I say that this kind of food serves a deep need in us human beings. It’s often the subject of food and competitive-cooking shows.

So why not comfort pipe tobacco? Indeed, why not?

Here’s my view of what makes a comfort blend, which is partly inspired by The Artful Codger and Eric The Blue Collar Pipe Smoker.

Let me preface this by saying that I do not mean in any way to disparage the hugely talented crop of tobacco blenders we’ve been blessed with. They are amazing, and I hope no one misunderstands me.

Nevertheless, in contrast to boutique blends (let’s call them), comfort, or codger, blends are not out to dazzle you with exotic ingredients and combinations. They are just there to help you relax, to comfort you. That’s a valuable service.

In an earlier life, I was a low-level stage magician. I entertained at kids birthday parties and adult functions. In this capacity, I came to associate with excellent amateur, semi-pro, and even professional magicians. (Long ago I interviewed James Randi and Milburn Christopher, as a kid I knew a real old-timer, Doc Irving, who was a friend of my father’s.)  Anyway, hanging out a bit with magicians, I realized they fell roughly into two broad categories (though they overlapped): those who wanted to entertain the public and those who placed a higher value on entertaining — dazzling — other magicians. This is no put-down of the second group, but it does differ from the first.

Tobacco blending resembles this (for me; who else?), and I’m now at the point where I am less interested in being dazzled by the blenders’ undeniable skills and more interested in the comfort that smokers traditionally sought from their pipes.

To each his own. Live and let live. Replace your divots.

Comfort Tobacco

My Dad, circa 1942

Comfort food is that category of food we all can retreat to during times of stress or other adversity. No two persons have the same list of such foods, of course, but we all know what the term means and why.

I think pipe tobacco blends can be similarly described as comfort tobacco. When I just want to relax and not have to deal with complexity, bite, burn, or nic-hits, I seek comfort in one of a number of blends. Top of my list these days is Prince Albert, which has been around for over 110 years. Exactly what’s in it I cannot say. says it’s burley and Cavendish without flavoring. Others say it is flavored. Still others say Virginia and Turkish lurk in the blend. I don’t know. What I do know is that Prince Albert has the pleasant burley taste I identify with plain honest tobacco. It’s mildly sweet and nutty in a way that does not suggest artificial flavoring. I assume the room note is not off-putting.

I’ve been breaking in two Chris Morgan Bones pipes with it, leading me to the conviction that Prince Albert is a fine way to start the morning. Good stuff. It never lets me down.

You can find it in 1.5oz pouches (including six-pouch packs), 14oz plastic tubs (no longer in cans), and bulk. It’s a great buy. It’s easily found online, and my local Walmart carries it.

I recommend it.

PS: My enjoyment of Prince Albert has prompted me to undertake a personal challenge. I’ll be away for a few days later this month, so I’ve decided to take only one tobacco with me: Prince Albert. (I usually pack several.) I’ll bring along a couple of briars, a meerschaum, and a corn cob, most likely the Charles Town Cobbler. We’ll see how it goes.

PA can