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American Pickers Stars Explain Their Commonly Used Lingo

"American Pickers" has, like other History shows, shown that valuable history can exist practically anywhere in the American landscape. This isn't to say that just anyone can throw a dart at a map and find it. Picking, along with the general antique trade, requires a certain amount of skill. Some skills can be taught, and some are just learned with time and experience. 

Like most similar skills, picking has acquired its own lingo, its own slang. Or at least the cast of "American Pickers" have. Given that Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz worked together for decades before Fritz departed the "American Pickers" in 2020 amid a feud with Wolfe, it can't be all that surprising that the two had established a common language. They had a series of phrases and words to use as something of a shorthand to describe certain aspects of their work to themselves and others. And because we've been watching for more than 20 seasons, we've gotten more than a taste of some of this insider language. To the uninitiated, it may be confusing. Luckily, there exists at least one clip where the pickers explain a bit of their terminology to us.

From 'windshield time' to 'mega picks'

The lingo of the "American Pickers" is laid out well in a video for History. Some are fairly self-explanatory. At least for fans of the show. For example, "windshield time" refers to the amount of time that a picker has to be behind the wheel, traveling from town to town, not just to provide more places to explore, but to establish recognition among residents who might have items they're looking to sell. "The more miles we can lay down," says Mike Wolfe, "the bigger the chance that we're going to find something." 

"Mega pick" is also pretty clear. "Mega pick would be the sheer volume of everything that's there," explains Wolfe. Accompanying his words are shots of the guys entering not small sheds or basements, but veritable warehouses or barns. According to Frank Fritz, these are the kinds of places that normally require more than one visit to find the really great stuff. "We've been there before," he says, "but we want to go back because, every time, you can't see it all."

But there's more lingo to picking than just putting down "windshield time" in search of a "mega pick." After all, the guys are always looking for proverbial gold — even of the rusty variety.

From 'honey holes' to 'rusty gold'

When the "American Pickers" team stumbles upon a "honey hole," they find quality over quantity. "Honey hole is a place where there's just, like, incredible stuff," says Mike Wolfe. "Maybe not a lot of stuff, there could be, like, two or three things. But it's a place that we dream about."

And what kinds of items might they find in these honey holes? Well, that's where "rusty gold" comes in. According to Wolfe, this doesn't necessarily mean that an item is in pristine condition. It could be covered in dust, sun-baked, or even have something gross like animal droppings on it. Underneath all the grime, however, it's clearly something that could sell for a lot, or even be a neglected piece of American history.

Obviously, "honey holes" and "rusty gold" aren't everyday discoveries for the folks on "American Pickers." When the antique hunting stars do find them, it's memorable. One of the most memorable of such occasions was in 2019, when Wolfe and Frank Fritz stumbled into what the episode called the "Hollywood Honey Hole." As the name alludes to, this was when the two came to the home of a golden-age Hollywood stuntman to find it almost overflowing with old-timey film memorabilia. Needless to say, the guys were wowed.