Decoder Ring

Decoder Ring: Truck Nutz

Why would someone dangle plastic testicles from their bumper?

A kaleidoscopic array of truck nuts.
Benjamin Frisch

Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.

Truck Nutz is a brand name for the dangling plastic testicles some people affix to the bumpers or hitches of their vehicles. Also sold as Bulls Balls, Your Nutz, and other brand names, these plastic novelties have a powerful symbolic charge and are often associated with a crass, macho, red state audience. But truck nuts are a surprisingly complicated signifier whose symbolic power is increasingly divorced from their real-world usage.

On this episode, we talk to owners and users of truck nuts, investigate the origins of the accessories, and deconstruct the meaning of these oft-joked-about symbols. We’ll also take a tour of other novelty testicle products, including Bike Balls (testicular bike lights), Gunsticles (plastic testicles for guns), and Neuticles (prosthetic testicles for neutered pets), to better understand the maligned symbolism of truck nuts.

Links and further reading on some of the things we discussed on the show:

• Truck Nutz website
• Ad for Monster Truck Nuts
• Truck Nutz prank call
• Elie Mystal’s writing on truck nuts for Above the Law
• Bike Balls bike light
Neuticles for pets
Gunsticles Tactical Testicles
Austin Vasectomy in Austin, Texas

Email: decoderring@slate.com
Twitter: @willapaskin

This episode was written by Willa Paskin and edited and produced by Benjamin Frisch.