Hoarding food and supplies for the apocalypse could be a psychological artifact of the Cold War, consumerism gone haywire or some form of collective insanity. But whatever the root cause of this squirrel-like behaviour, there’s no denying it has become a great American pasttime. For thousands of Americans, there is nothing quite so satisfying as stocking up on supplies for the end of the world so that you can say “suck it” to those neighbours you hate when the shit comes down.
I’m not going to say that Christians have perfected this pasttime, but let’s face it: They totally have. From Mormons laying in extra foodstuffs just in case Jesus comes back to Bible-based Y2K preppers, Christians had long been at the vanguard of doomsday stockpiling. So today we’re going to investigate one of the most aggressively marketed lines of endtimes products currently available: Jim Bakker’s Buckets o’ Stuff.
You all remember Jim Bakker, right? He was a circuit preacher who clawed his way up the televangelist ladder throughout the ’70s and early ’80s to establish the largest evangelical empire the planet has ever seen. He was the king of ’80s prosperity gospel, the notion that Christian faith and devotion go hand-in-hand with material wealth. Then he screwed it up and Jerry Falwell was able to buy all his stuff at a deep discount.
After finishing his prison time in 1994, Bakker oozed down to Missouri and kept a low profile for about five minutes. Then he quietly re-emerged on the evangelism scene with a humbler, toned-down image and a vanilla second wife. He penned a memoir (I Was Wrong), then turned his attention to the endtimes. His Jim Bakker Show began airing on satellite services in the early 2000s.
Bakker introduced his buckets to the show a few years back, and they quickly became the centrepiece of both his broadcasts and his online preparedness store.
Each food product comes in a 2-gallon, 4-gallon or 6-gallon white plastic bucket. Most have a shelf life of 25-30 years if left unopened. The buckets are not, as you might imagine, filled to the brim with dehydrated food-powder. The food itself comes in individual packages that are packed into the bucket. Some of the buckets are variety packs containing everything from pancakes to beef strogonoff.
On his show, Bakker frequently gives demonstrations of his glorious bucket-grub. Stage assistants will cook up a 6-gallon trough of glop, and Bakker will sample a teaspoonful of it and declare its awesomeness. His wife, guests and co-hosts will do the same, nod approvingly, and rave about the texture or the seasoning or the generous portions.
Bakker’s team has unleashed some truly bizarre marketing gimmicks on the public to promote this stuff. Once, a man in a Hawaiian shirt lovingly crooned a survival-meals love song to the tune of “My Girl” while gesturing at the buckets. Instead of “my girl” in the chorus, he chirped “endtimes!”
How do people who don’t work for Jim Bakker like the bucket food? The guys at Good Mythical Morning taste-tested a few items from the Tasty Pantry Deluxe Emergency Food Supply 6-gallon bucket, which contains a variety of powdered meals. The meatless pizza said to be “8 servings” was slightly smaller than the individual-sized pizzas you get at restaurants, and the hosts deemed it “not terrible.” Next they tried the creamy potato soup that Bakker has showcased, calling it “full of cream” while stagehands stir the colourless slop in slow, hypnotic circles. One host said the consistency made him uncomfortable and the flavour was that of “old bread.” The bean burgers were dry but “not bad.” They marveled at how chocolate pudding could possibly be bad, yet it was. And the strogonoff? Dog food.
So the question is, why buy these buckets o’ stuff instead of any of the other products available to the discerning consumer of endtimes comestibles? What makes these buckets special?
- They float! They all float!
- They double as toilets! As Bakker asks, “What’re gonna do with the doo-doo? Do you have a plan?”
- You can trade one bucket of coffee for a car! Then all you have to do is defeat 30 competitors in a steel cage death match for a quarter tank of gas.
- If you buy Bakker’s buckets, you’re helping a desperate old man pay all those taxes he didn’t pay in the ’80s! Public listings of IRS liens still identify “James O. and Tamara F. Bakker” as owing in excess of $5,000,000.
But Wait! It Gets Worse!
You might think that Bakker can’t possibly stoop much lower than forcing his lackeys to pretend-drool over mediocre dehydrated soup.
Well, you don’t know Jim Bakker. He can stoop considerably lower than that, even at his advanced age.
In 2018, he began hawking a new health product on his show: A Silver Solution that he claims can cure all venereal diseases. I’m not sure why his evangelical fanbase would need such a product, but Bakker seems pretty convinced they do. The product appears to be similar to colloidal silver solutions that have been aggressively advertised on Infowars and Patriot/Prepper websites for years. The manufacturer of the product does not make any venereal disease claims in any of its literature. That’s all on Bakker.
Colloidal silver has some antibiotic properties, but it is not known to cure any disease. In the late 19th century, silver was used to alleviate symptoms of certain STDs. It was not deemed to be a totally effective cure for those diseases. Also, the silver was not just applied externally or ingested, as most commercially available colloidal silver products are today.
Last week, Bakker decided to make an even more spurious claim: That his silver products can cure the most recent strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, in under two weeks. His claim was echoed by the same naturopath, Dr. Sherrill Sellman, who has been appearing on his show to help push his Silver Solution. Sellman said that although the stuff has not been tested on COVID-19 (duh), it’s possible that it has eliminated similar viruses within 12 days.
Neither of them produced any evidence to support this claim.
Now here’s where things get even weirder. I mentioned that Silver Solution appears similar to colloidal silver products aimed at Preppers and alternative medicine fans. But it turns out that the stuff Bakker sells does not contain any silver. Its ingredients are listed as “deionized [purified] water.”
That’s it. That’s all it contains. He’s selling fucking water as a cure for COVID-19, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV, and dozens of other diseases. [correction: the silver products currently being sold at the Jim Bakker Show Store do, in contradiction to a recent Newsweek article, contain between 12 to 24 PPM of silver, which makes them comparable to other colloidal silver products on the market].
If we are approaching the End of Days, maybe we deserve it.