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.
Two Men Claim To Have 'Invented' Automotive Novelty Testicles
It’s hard to say exactly when novelty testicles first started showing up attached to the back bumpers of pickup trucks, but by the mid to late 2000s, they appeared to be everywhere. The rise of the fad itself has been most frequently attributed to one of two men: John Saller or his competitor David Ham.
Though it is clear from the pair’s conflict-ridden history that they would certainly prefer to never have their names appear in the same sentence, both lay claim to the original idea of attaching plastic ball sacks to the bumpers of cars and trucks.
They Were Both Pre-Dated By A Woman Who Sold 'Smaller' Nuts
As the saying goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” Interestingly enough, this also appears to be the case for truck nuts. Regardless of whether Saller or Ham was the first to start mass-manufacturing and selling the truck accessories, an unnamed woman from northern Nevada had them both beat by over a decade.
According to Saller, he originally got the idea for his brand of ornaments - Bulls Balls - after coming across a woman selling them in the mid-'80s.
In an interview, Saller briefly explained his first encounter:
As far as I’ve been able to find out, there was a woman in northern Nevada who started selling them in the mid-'80s, but smaller, in a different look... Before the internet, it was hard to properly market them.
- Photo: YourNutz.com
Bulls Balls Appear To Have Hit The Internet First, But Both Men Tell The Story Differently
According to David Ham’s retelling of events, he first founded Your Nutz in 1996 after having witnessed a makeshift pair of “large fleshy testicles” waving back and forth on the back bumper of a truck at a rally in the 1980s.
Though it took some time to find the right manufacturing partnership for his beloved design, Ham was finally able to produce and sell them online - through an as-of-yet unverifiable AOL domain.
John Saller’s origin story is similar, but with a bit of a twist. While he also admits to having witnessed a woman selling similar testicle-shaped bumper ornaments in the '80s, there are also rumors that the idea came to him more organically. Allegedly, Saller had been offroading with his friends when someone yelled, "‘Go Ernie, show 'em you got balls!’” This reignited his passion for the product, which he then brought to his would-be partner Chad Tombyll, owner of Tombyll Plastics in San Bernardino, California.
Saller and Ham may dispute which man first had the idea to build his brand, but their internet legacies are cut and dry. A quick dive into web domain registration records shows that Saller’s brand registered online in 1999, while Ham’s registered in 2002.
AlltheNutz.com Set Off A Full-Blown Balls War
Shortly after their launch, the two truck nuts manufacturers were quickly knocking on each other’s proverbial doors demanding that the other revoke their claim to being the first - and best - truck ball maker. When neither Saller nor Ham was willing to back down, the competition between the two became far more heated, resulting in aggressive phone exchanges and emails.
In 2009, their feud reached new heights when Ham, the owner of YourNutz.com, decided to stoke the fires of competition by launching an all-inclusive truck nuts e-shop called AlltheNutz.com. AlltheNutz, true to its name, was built off the ambition of selling every type of bumper ball accessory on the market in one place.
However, Ham's number one competitor, Saller, refused to sell his merchandise on the site. Ham’s pursuit for all the balls on the market brought his and Saller’s feud to a breaking point.