Where the heck did the phrase "going to hell in a handbasket" come from? It's bad for business.
-- Handbasket Makers of America
The original place people were inclined to go in a handbasket was heaven. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English, the expression "to go to heaven in a handbasket" was popular in the upper Midwest in the 19-teens. It meant to have it made, to have your future secured. Within a few decades, the expression migrated to the East Coast and transformed itself into "to go to hell in a handbasket," hell apparently being a more common destination for the average New Yorker.