That scariest time of the year is almost here. William Shakespeare called it “the very witching time of night, when churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.” Today it’s called Trick or Treat, a night when costumed kids go door to door collecting sweets, including the most polarizing candy of all—candy corn.

Each year Americans spend $2.7 billion to buy 600 million pounds of Halloween candy, 20 million pounds of which are candy corn. Some love it; some hate it. Candy corn is the top Halloween treat in Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Michigan, Alabama and Rhode Island, but Snickers is Florida’s favorite.

Halloween evolved from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. Celts living in Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France 2000 years ago believed ghosts of the dead returned to earth on Oct. 31. Villagers lit bonfires and wore costumes of animal skins to scare off the demons. They put out offerings of food and drink. It was Trick or Treat without candy corn. Eventually the pagan tradition merged with Christianity, and Nov. 2 was designated All Souls’ Day. Poor children went door-to-door “souling” at homes of the rich, praying for souls of the dead in exchange for “soul cakes.” Costumed Scottish and Irish youngsters called it “guising;” they sang songs, recited poems or told jokes and were rewarded with fruit, nuts and coins. Years later, Irish and Scottish immigrants in America popularized souling and guising as Halloween.

“Have you ever gone a little too far with a costume on Halloween? It is definitely a night to go overboard, but don’t put those same over indulging costumes on your teeth,” advised St. Augustine dentist Steven Freeman, owner of Elite Smiles dental office and author of Why Your Teeth Might Be Killing You. “I would go for dark chocolate because it is lower in sugar, has antioxidants and is easy to brush off, doing the least damage to your teeth…the stereotypical candy that screams ‘Halloween is my favorite holiday’ is the controversial fall candy, candy corn! These sugar bombs…stay on your teeth longer, but the main problem is people who like candy corn tend to not know how to limit themselves; they eat it like it is going out of season, which technically it does.”

In Walgreen’s a week or so ago I saw a little girl go to her mother with a large bag of candy corn. “Put that back. It’s horrible. Nobody likes candy corn,” her mom said.

“Oh, but my husband loves it,” I blurted out, instantly wishing I hadn’t interfered as the woman glared at me. Candy corn is Binmeister’s favorite. On the other hand, many folks hate the waxy sugar consistency. They say it’s like eating plastic, and gets old quickly.

Comedian Lewis Black said: “Manufacturers just collect and resell the same candy kernels year after year, because nobody actually eats the stuff.”

The yellow, orange and white colored candy that looks like a large kernel of corn is made of high fructose corn syrup, which is said to affect memory and cause brain inflammation not to mention ruin your teeth. Sorry Binmeister, no more candy corn for you. Let’s get dark chocolate, my favorite!  All Hallows Eve is Wednesday, so fill your treat bowl for the demons and ghouls that come knocking, and buy your candy early so you have time to buy more after you eat it all.

And don’t forget Dr. Freeman’s advice: “keep your smile healthy during this Halloween season. Eat chocolate and brush. Those are Doctor’s orders!”