They're Soft and Cuddly, So Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck?
Here are a few quotes:
Grille-mounted stuffed animals form a compelling yet little-studied aspect of the urban streetscape, a traveling gallery of baldly transgressive public art. The time has come not just to praise them but to ask the big question. Why?
That is, why do a small percentage of trucks and vans have filthy plush toys lashed to their fronts, like prisoners at the mast? Are they someone's idea of a joke? Parking aids? Talismans against summonses?
"He said: 'Yo, man, I drive a garbage truck. How am I going to get the ladies to look at me?' " Mr. Marbury recalled.
Monroe Denton, a lecturer in art history at the School of Visual Arts, traced the phenomenon's roots back to the figureheads that have animated bows of ships since the time of the pharaohs.
...the grille-mounted stuffed animal is almost always a found object - "mongo," in garbageman's parlance. And in that respect it functions as a sort of trophy.
Strapped Animals has a nice gallery of images.