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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
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

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game