Cold Start: Haulin’ The Wicker

Cs Wicker

If you’ve wondered where the expression “haulin’ the wicker” comes from, meaning to carry a lot of stuff, rapidly and a little recklessly, then I’m delighted to show you this old 1978 Ford Escort van brochure, because this is the genesis. A distribution error from Ford of Britain’s brochure printer caused a copy of this page of the brochure to go out with the Sunday Times, so huge numbers of people saw this image of the Escort van, crammed full of wicker.

Ford of Britain, hoping to mitigate the error and cost, sent a fleet of Escort vans to collect as many errant brochure pages as possible, as quickly as possibly, resulting in many vans tearing ass around the city, crammed full of reams of paper, knocking over trash cans and side-swiping fences.

The public conflated the wicker in the image with the speeding vans, and the expression stuck. If you were rushing to the airport with an armload of overnight bags and carry-ons, you were hauling the wicker, as you were when you rushed home with two full grocery bags, or if you were collecting a dozen rambunctious kittens.

Also, I may have just made all this up.

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40 Responses

  1. This incident also doomed the “Atlas Shrugged” inspired ad campaign that was planned to involve a year long series of “Who is Ebenezer?” ads. Sadly, the big reveal has been lost to history.

  2. “Haulin’ the wicker” almost sounds like something that would be in practice in the south. Except I’ve never seen any real evidence that anyone from the south moves that fast, unless it’s a race. I might incorporate it into my own idioms here in the great north, though.

  3. I am not a native speaker, so I had no idea that “hauling the wicker” was a thing! I just saw a literal description of the brochure on the header, no big deal. Took me a while to realize I was missing out on another brilliant linguistic archeologic piece from our very own Torchiana Jones!

  4. The exact derivation of the phrase has been disputed:

    At that same time in East London, mass confusion ensued. A crowd vigorously chanted “Haul in da Wicca,” as a mad mob searched high and low for the local pagan priest allegedly transporting pig hearts in large wicker baskets.

  5. I believe the story originated during the 70’s Britain labor disputes. Factories had become so dysfunctional that the workers could not wait to get to their favorite picnic and fishing locations, hence “haulin’ the wicker”.

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