Make no bones about it: trick-or-treating is serious business.

According to the National Confectioners Association, Americans this year will shell out about $2.3 billion for Halloween candy. That's a whole heck of a lot of Fun Size candy bars. And don't forget the candy corn, all 35 million pounds of it.

Halloween may not compare with Christmas when it comes to hype, but it definitely means big business to some people.

Halloween is, for many kids, the source of their first personal experiences with commerce. I can recall the hard work that had to be done after trick-or-treating. I'd take my pillowcase full of candy, dump it out on the bedroom floor and begin sorting the sweets into different piles.

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THE SCOOP Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe, 39 Unquowa Road, Fairfield, 203-292-8190 Raw vegan chocolates: www.Lisasobolewski.com or etsy.com (shop name, Justfoodchef) Chocolate (recipe courtesy of Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe) Melt 1 cup cacao butter Add ½ cup raw honey and mix, mix, mix After honey and cacao butter are one, add pinch of quality salt. Add cacao powder to taste. Less=sweet, more=dark chocolate. Start with 8 heaping tablespoons and mix. Mold and freeze.

There was the non-chocolate group: things like Twizzlers, Starburst and gum. Then B-list chocolates like Butterfingers and Heath bars went in another. The most valuable pile was the one with Reese's, Snickers and Junior Mints. Treats of marginal value included lollipops, peanut butter taffy and anything remotely healthy.

All this sorting was an important step in the whole Halloween ritual, because the next day, serious trading would begin to take place. A Milky Way for a Nestle Crunch was a decent trade, but woe to the person who traded a Kit Kat for a roll of Necco Wafers.

In recent years, area dentists have put a bounty on candy. Halloween candy buy-back programs have popped up at dental offices throughout the nation, where you get money back (usually about $1 per pound) for Halloween candy.

The donated goodies are then packaged up and sent to troops overseas, which is a wonderful thing. But as far as the kids are concerned, it's a real killjoy.

On Halloween, trick-or-treaters get a workout, hauling their heavy bags from door-to-door, only to have to surrender their candy at the end of the day. A dollar per pound hardly seems worth the effort, but admittedly, I have an insatiable sweet tooth.

Now that I'm an adult, I know the value of a truly delicious piece of chocolate.

I won't say it's priceless, but chocolate is one of those indulgences that most people willingly pay for.

Even the most hard-core healthful eaters recognize the inherent worth of chocolate.

Glen Colello of Fairfield's Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe recently hosted a presentation on raw chocolate at the Fairfield Public Library.

Isn't all chocolate raw, you ask? Well, no. In traditional chocolate-making, the cacao beans are roasted, rendering chocolate a non-option for raw foodists. But Fairfielder Lisa Sobelewski has discovered a way to make raw chocolate that's healthy as well as tasty.

Using completely raw ingredients, she's found a way to make gourmet chocolates which she sells through her company, Just Food, on etsy.com. Sobelewski was on hand at the demonstration to help make some chocolate-based recipes, as well as offer samples of her rum raisin chocolates.

When crafted in this way, chocolate is not only a tasty indulgence, but healthy as well, according to Colello.

"Chocolate is mineral-dense, and we need minerals," he said. "What makes chocolate a superfood is that it's packed with more minerals than carrots or celery."

Now that's what I like to hear. Bring on the chocolate, and don't even think of putting a toothbrush in the trick-or-treat bag.

Email Patti Woods at eatdrinkshopcook@gmail.com.

THE SCOOP

Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe, 39 Unquowa Road, Fairfield; 203-292-8190

Raw vegan chocolates: www.Lisasobolewski.com or etsy.com (shop name, Justfoodchef)

Chocolate (recipe courtesy of Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe)

Melt 1 cup cacao butter

Add ½ cup raw honey and mix, mix, mix

After honey and cacao butter are one, add pinch of quality salt. Add cacao powder to taste. Less=sweet, more=dark chocolate. Start with 8 heaping tablespoons and mix.

Mold and freeze.