Halloween is once again upon us. For the supremely ill informed out there, Halloween is a quasi-holiday for which not even the government shuts down – a riddle, wrapped in a bite-size Laffy Taffy, inside a Milk Dud. In other words, nearly impenetrable with standard-issue teeth. Or Teeth of Wisdom if you care to continue the metaphor. Which you probably don’t. But that’s too bad, because I was going to mention how I, your humble scribe, can wield my Dentures of Discernment to gnaw through the knotty, carmel (not caramel) enrobed history of Halloween.

Everything I know about Halloween I learned from the 1966 television classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Of course, I also gleaned a few facts from Wikipedia, a half-dozen viewings of Ghostbusters in 1984, original Twilight Zone episodes (though not the one where a pre-Kirk William Shatner sees a destructive troll on the wing of an airplane), Magic 8 Ball key chains and my crazy uncle Art — who really isn’t crazy, but has been “getting too old for this” since he was 32. In other words: highly verifiable, trustworthy sources.

I understand the confusion surrounding Halloween, especially in the world of Christianity. While some of us see the day as nothing more than an excuse for children and children-of-all-ages to dress up as filthy, stinking, harmonica-wielding hobos, others view it as a gateway holiday into full-on Beelzebubian bacchanalianism. In fact, both sides are wrong. (But if blowin’ harmonica for Kit Kats is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.) Halloween dates back not to the Druids or Stonehenge, but to 1920s New Orleans. As many folks — including Sunday school teachers — know, Halloween is also known as All Saints’ Eve. What most folks — especially Sunday School teachers — don’t know is that All Saints’ Eve was founded by famed trumpeter Louis Armstrong who, naturally, wrote the holiday’s theme song. (Armstrong would go on to posthumously write the theme songs to both The Facts of Life and Growing Pains.)

Similarly, many of today’s most beloved, treasured and other cliché-ridden traditions have evolved from pop culture. But, since the collective populous now has the attention- and memory-spans of a gnat, these roots have been forgotten. At least until VH1 does I Love the 40s. For example, Halloween costume mainstays like Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein and Elmo can all be traced to the Abbot and Costello Meet [Insert Scary Demon Muppet Here] films. Today’s crop of popular costumes — Freddy Krueger, hippies, presidents, assorted Kardashians, etc. — can all be traced to China.

Bobbing for apples, which naturally seems to derive from some sort of Dark Ages harvest festival, is actually the invention of little-known Pennsylvania pharmacist J. Albert Pickwick. Hoping to popularize his patented Pickwick’s Pucker Purifier, Pickwick proselytized the produce procuring practice in order to prompt the proliferation of cold sores and, therefore, the need for his product. Eww. Alas, by the time apple bobbing took hold across the land, government-mandated mind control chemicals fluoride had made the spread of unsightly facial viruses via rain barrel nothing but a painful, mockery-inducing memory. It’s science, people. Look it up.

Of course, the highlight of Halloween, as far as youths are concerned, is candy. Which only proves the naivety of said youths. After all, 85–98 percent of any candy haul consists of dubious treats the kid either doesn’t like (coconut-based), is allergic to (peanut-based), has never heard of before (Pistachio Nerbles®), or is confiscated by a parent (M&Ms, 3 Musketeers and Milky Ways, if you must know). Also, the old razor-blade-in-a-candy-apple story is nothing but a suburban legend. Not because Ol’ Lady Nincombopper didn’t toss a few Gillettes into a batch of carmel (again, not caramel) coated McIntoshes, but because no child has ever been able to remove the cling wrap from such confections. And for those who have long wondered why candy corns don’t look anything like Green Giant Niblets, you’ve been thinking about the wrong kind of corns. Double eww.

Hey, the truth can be frightening sometimes, folks. Especially as we approach Louis Armstrong’s All Saints’ Eve and Crawfish