The name, "Kickapoo Joy Juice", was originally coined as a "volatile brew" in Li'l Abner, an American comic strip.Al Capp, the cartoonist, described the drink as "a liquor of such stupefying potency that the hardiest citizens of Dogpatch, after the first burning sip, rose into the air, stiff as frozen codfish". It was said to be an elixir of such power that the fumes alone have been known to melt the rivets off battleships.
Capp asserted in 1965 that the cartoon "never has suggested that the drink is moonshine", in response to claims that the Kickapoo Joy Juice of Li'l Abner was an illicitly distilled liquor. Brewed by Hairless Joe and Lonesome Polecat, two of the comic strip's backwood poachers, the ingredients of the brew are both mysterious and all-encompassing, (much like the contents of their cave, which has been known to harbor prehistoric monsters.) When a batch "needs more body," the formidable pair simply goes out and clubs "a body" (often a moose), and tosses it in. Over the years, the "recipe" has called for live grizzly bears, panthers, kerosene, horseshoes and anvils, among other ingredients.
The real world drink was introduced in 1965 under NuGrape, a former brand of The Monarch Beverage Company. That year, Nugrape worked out a deal with Al Capp, the owner of the "Kickapoo Joy Juice" rights, to produce the beverage as a carbonated soft drink. Capp, however, would have the last word on all advertising and promotion. Kickapoo Joy Juice's early advertising campaign was very similar to Mountain Dew's of the time – using characters from Li'l Abner to create and market a hillbilly feeling. Although the product is currently distributed largely in Asian markets (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia and Bangladesh), the can still comes decorated with a vintage Li'l Abner drawing.