Snak-Bak Food Truck owner reminisces on 40 years of snacks ahead of Juneteenth festivities

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 19:30:34-04

Michael Gipson spends most days in his 26-foot food truck, lovingly nicknamed the Snak-Bak.

He got into business in 1972, after deciding he couldn't stand working in foundries.

"Cheapest thing for me to go into, and I went into it and loved it and tried to turn it into a business for my family," Michael says.

True to his nickname, Popcorn Mike makes lots of popcorn, but his most popular dish is nachos.

"Because of my cheese and how I make them, and how I don't hold back," Michael says. "I don't use nacho cheese. I use cheese! Cheese! Cheese!"

He's also open to suggestions — For Juneteenth, he's bringing out a corn roaster. And Michael recently started selling Kool-Aid pickles.

"People just kept asking me, 'what about the Kool-Aid pickles?' So I told my wife, 'we've got to make the Kool-Aid pickles!'"

He says the snack is most popular in Mississippi, and the south is well known for its pickled foods.

"I don't know exactly how they started it, but you know we found it and we started doing it," Michael says.

Business is good.

"Some days I can't even get to the streets I want to get to, because I'm that busy," Michael says.

But things weren't always this easy. Michael bought his truck right after the Civil Rights movement.

"I ran into a lot of problems when I went up to the lakefront. You know, prejudice was everywhere," he says. "They would get the police and tell me that I would have to move, but by me being stubborn, I didn't move."

And Michael always tried his best to serve the community well.

"If you come and say, 'hey, Mike, I don't got no money.' What do you want? That's the best I can do, you know. That's the very best that I can do," he said.

Michael says he's just trying to bring people together — but there are lots of ways to do it, especially when it comes to Juneteenth, which Michael has been attending for 50 years.

"Food can, music can, it's a whole lot of things," he says. "Lots of people should just come. Different nationalities, just to see what all the different vendors will bring."

It's a chance to try something new.

"Something that you don't see no place else!"

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip