Weird History
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Inside The Great Truck Nuts War That Consumed The Lives Of Two Businessmen

February 18, 2020 39.8k views11 items

Anyone who has ever been stuck in traffic while driving down a US highway or along a country road has likely found themselves staring directly into the hypnotizing sway of a pair of Bulls Balls (whether they liked it or not). Bulls Balls - affectionately known by numerous monikers such as "truck nutz," "bumper nuts," "yournutz," and simply "truck balls" - have been a staple among truck enthusiasts since they first arrived on the market in the mid-'90s. But as with any novelty item, the truck nuts origin story is both vague and highly contested by those who lay claim to the rights of this imaginative product.

The truth behind the tailgate accessory is contested by two men: David Ham and John Saller. The highly successful anti-collaborators began producing and selling the glorified bumper adornments within a few years of one another, yet both claim to have beat out the other in the development of the original concept. So, who is the true brains behind this novelty tailgate-flair operation? And what’s the meaning behind the truck nuts anyway? It turns out that the answers to both these questions are confounding at best.

  • Photo: TruckNutz

    A Third Competitor Managed To Run His Business Mostly Unbothered

    As the popularity of ball-themed bumper accessories continued to rise, so did the number of competing manufacturers. One such competitor was a man name Wilson Kemp, a retired junior college administrator who had been looking for a project to keep his mind busy. When he found someone selling the rights to his ball tailgate attachments, he jumped at the opportunity. 

    Kemp’s company, which he aptly named Truck Nutz, took the mold he purchased and began manufacturing the plastic balls as “a quirky thing [that] people would get a kick out of.”

    Despite (or perhaps because of) the battle raging between his top two competitors at the time, Kemp managed to fly below the radar and find his own level of success.

  • Ham Infiltrated Tombyll’s Factory Under An Alias But Was Kicked Out

    At the height of Ham and Saller’s balls battle, during which Ham was trying to manage the successful launch of a new, all-inclusive truck ball e-store, Ham decided to get creative with his extraction methods.

    When Saller refused to sell Ham any of his ball products for resale on, Ham decided to go straight to the source - undercover. 

    He went directly to Saller’s San Bernardino manufacturer, Tombyll Plastics, and attempted to buy some products under the alias “Bozzy Willis.” Tombyll quickly caught on to the ruse, and asked Willis, “Do people call you by another name, Bozzy? Do they also call you... David Ham?” 

    With this, Ham knew his cover had been blown, and Tombyll escorted him out of the building. Ham left the premises - sans balls.

  • Bulls Balls Was Accused Of Price-Fixing

    Whether a result of the feud with Ham or actual customer dissatisfaction, reviews for Bulls Balls began cropping up accusing the company of price-fixing and manipulating consumer demand.

    The following is one such inciting review - to which the Balls Balls owner himself, John Saller, responded (see image): 

    This guy owns over 30 websites selling the same thing. He is illegally fixing prices and cancelling dealers who discount. He had a free giveaway that I was the first to request and once he got my personal information he said I didnt "qualify" he uses "arbitrary discrimination" to defraud whomever he pleases. This guy is dangerous DO NOT BUY FROM, instead there are a few sites that give excellent service and prices such as Bulls balls, truck nuts, bumpernuts are all the same thing.

  • The Two Spent Years Using Aliases To Burn Each Other Online

    The aggressive emails and telephone exchanges between Ham and Saller eventually boiled over to the internet. Jumping onto various consumer forums and blogs with names like “Truck-Nuts-Balls,” “Reporter 666,” and "Ripoff Report," the pair continued their ball beef by trash-talking one another’s products and business ethics with a take-no-prisoners ferocity.

    The men slung their insults using a variety of fake names, all the while trying to constantly out one another for leaving fake comments. Eventually, things got so heated that Saller got his attorney involved to try and cite Ham for defamation.

    In the end, each party sent the other an official cease and desist letter. After a few more verbal jabs, the dust settled and they went their separate ways.