America stocks up on guns and honey for Y2K

US citizens are stocking up on the `Four Bs - bullets, bandages, beans and Bibles' ready for 2000 chaos, writes Andrew Marshall

IF YOU think that Y2K is a brand of cereal, you are seriously behind the curve. America is rapidly going millennium-mad, stocking up on all the elements for a good party: guns, dried food and honey.

The bullets are just in case everything goes wrong and the arrival of Y2K sends every computer in the country into a flat spin, triggering a temporary breakdown in social order. The dried food and the honey are perhaps even more worrying. Many Americans fear that when the screens darken, the country will be plunged into food shortages. And at least one group of people seems particularly keen to fill the larder with cartons of 9mm hollowpoint and a little something: computer programmers.

America has always taken the millennium bug more seriously than other countries. Concern has gone into overdrive in the last few weeks. The new status symbol is to be spending New Year's Eve at home: it means you are critical personnel forbidden to travel and that you may be needed on the Big Day. If your boss has told you it's fine to go parascending on Pitcairn Island it may be time to start looking at the small ads. But with this fascination goes fear, and in America fear means a lightweight item with a 30-round magazine and a glass-fibre stock.

Religious, rightwing and survivalist groups have been advising America for some time to stock up on the "Four Bs - bullets, bandages, beans and Bibles", as one website puts it. But it is not just hard-core survivalists who are getting ready to lock and load: there has been a noticeable boom in sales of guns and ammunition this year. Mike Jordan of the Winchester company said "sales are thriving". For the first time in years, the industry raised gun prices earlier this year.

Some of the sales are through specialist firms set up to prepare for the millennial market. David Goodyear created Bread and Lead in Oregon (motto: "Nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of death") specifically to cater for Y2K demand, and he said business is booming. But general dealers are also doing well. Darren at All-American Guns in Virginia said there has been a surge since mid-February. Highly popular products have been "military-style firearms" and "home defence weapons", especially the AR-15 (Armalite) rifle.

If gun sales have been going nicely, sales of dried foods and other survivalist rations - what one paper called "Apocalypse Chow" - have exploded. Crown Point, which makes military-style Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) saw a 500 per cent increase in sales in the first quarter of the year as people turned their thoughts from having a few people round for lunch to fighting off the neighbours with a semi-automatic and some anti-personnel devices.

And that is the key to the smiles on the faces of some beekeepers. Honey keeps well, can be used as a sweetener, on bread or in drinks, and is ideal for stockpiling, so many people concerned about impending social collapse have been buying it in large quantities. "It's one of the few commodities where the consumer can go directly to the producer," said Paul Hendricks, a beekeeper from Denver. "It keeps well, and it doesn't matter if you don't have heat or refrigeration." Unlike MREs, it is also nice to eat. (Winnie the Pooh knew this: when the Hundred Acre Wood was flooded, he sat it out in a tree with several jars of "hunny" - but he left his M-16 at home.)

Retail sales of honey in the US were up by between 10 and 20 per cent in the first four months of the year, and bulk sales were up by a similar amount - about a million pounds of honey a month.

Richard Adee, a honey producer from South Dakota, toured Y2K shows across America and found demand heaviest in Denver, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains. "Some places they bought cases," he said, with people carrying away 60lb boxes. "For a family, that's quite a bit of honey." Perhaps most worryingly, "a lot of them were computer people". The boom in gun sales in northern Virginia also seems to reflect the desire of the area's high-tech workers to tool up - and we are not talking about a Phillips screwdriver.

Additional reporting by Marina Kublanova and Sebastian Woods-Walker.

POOH'S BUNKER

With apologies to A A Milne

It's very very funny

'Cos I've bought a lot of hunny;

And stocked it in a bunker

That I made

Enough to save the day

When it comes to Y2K

In case those hungry Heffalumps

invade

And if it comes to shakedown

Or Eeyore order breakdown

There's automatic weapons here

as well.

'Cos should there be sedition

I've goloptious ammunition

To blow those mo'fo' Heffalumps

to hell

Martin Newell

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch