The game was named after the Groucho Marx character, Hugo Z. Hackenbush, in the Marx Brothers film "A Day at the Races". It was described and analysed in: Conway, John Horton. On Numbers and Games. New York: Academic Press, 1976. 165.
A fuller analysis was given in: Berlekamp, Elwyn R., John H. Conway, and Richard K. Guy. Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays - Volume 1. New York: Academic Press, 1982. 183-220.