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Minnesotans To Meet: Brian & Jane Nelson’s Classic Popcorn Truck

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s an odd combination of hobbies: making popcorn and restoring classic cars. But the two loves shared by one couple are now on display every Saturday at the Anoka Classic Car Show. The journey getting there is what makes Brian and Jane Nelson “Minnesotans to Meet.”

Their 1959 Ford Mister Softee Truck didn’t always look impressive.

“Jane saw this truck and said, ‘I want this truck,’” says Brian Nelson, “And who am I to say no to a gal who wants more vehicles?”

The journey started 12 years ago when the couple found it sitting in a friend’s yard in western Wisconsin.

“It was rusty. It had six-cylinder manual steering. We put modern components in it to make it more drive-able,” Brian said.

For Brain and Jane it was a perfect $400 deal, except for one thing.

“It was too hard to haul home, so we had to call a tow truck,” Brian said.

Another $460 later, eight years of metal work, a new engine and — voila — the truck has new life.

“This truck is mostly used parts,” Brian said. “I call this truck a recycled truck.”

“If I thought he was spending too much time in the house, I would put on a girly show and he’d go out to the garage,” Jane said.

The garage even meant adjustments to the truck. It got airbag suspension.

“We’re into it about $28,000,” Brian said.

There’s nothing cheap about this hobby — even Jane’s popcorn part.

“I gotta put the butter on the warmer, because it is real butter. And we were told you can’t use real butter, you’ll never make any money. Well, we’re definitely not in it for the money,” Jane said.

They knew they’d never make a “hull,” but they do sell the tasty treat. The recipe not only calls for real butter, but also more expensive coconut oil.

“I let kids sit in the truck and honk the horn,” Brian said. “It’s more of a hobby than a money business. It’s just fun.”

That fun likely started for both Jane and Brian as kids.

“My dad loved popcorn,” Jane said.

“I grew up with my dad and he always tinkered with stuff, too,” Brian said.

Twenty years together, and the fascination hasn’t faded.

“I’m always up for a challenge or another project,” Brian said.

Four running vintage cars, countless bikes and an antique cart are all part of their collection.

“We work well together, I think,” Jane said.

It’s work that most would have given up on. But for these two, they have turned into hobbies of a lifetime.

Both do have day jobs, but Jane was voted the first female president of the Tri-River Rodders Car Club.

If you can’t get out to Anoka, you can see the couple and their van every year at Back To The ’50s at the State Fairgrounds.

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