Today I encouraged the cat to go downstairs in a hurry, and said, "lickety-split." My mother used to say that, and I haven't heard it in years. I find that using my parents now archaic expressions somehow keeps me in touch with them. Language is a powerful bond.
When I googled the term, the dictionary didn't know the origin, but made a WAG (wild-assed guess) and offered forth some other cool expressions, some from the 1840's. I think the bottom one must be MUCH newer.
Quick as greased lightning (although "quick as lightning" dates to 1763, the grease was added in the 1840s)
Before you can say "Jack Robinson"
In a hustle
In a jiffy
Like a house afire
Hell bent (the variation "Hell bent for leather" doesn't appear until the 1900s.)
Immediately if not sooner
And before you can say "Jack Robinson," I had two queries, one for each novel come back, as rejections. One nice agent actually wrote a personal letter. The other sent a form which advised me to go to the AAR web page and look for agents. Thanks, buddy, that's where I found you. Another instance of suck it up!