Jerry Ostermann

For 60 years, the Lanzi Candy Company was one of dozens of family-run confectioneries that, along with candy giants Brach’s, Mars and Wrigley, gave Chicago the title Candy Capital of the World.

Now, 30 years after Lanzi’s candy was last produced in Chicago, club member and entrepreneur Jerry Ostermann has set out to bring Lanzi’s Cashew Nut and Rice Crunch back to the city. The candy was last sold in 1983 at Marshall Fields stores. Jerry has been working with Lanzi family members to replicate the original recipe and the original ‘look’ of the candy. Samples were provided to Club members at the Arizona brunch in March. Jerry’s new company is named Chicago Candy Works.


Filmmaker Michael Lahey, whose grandfather Elmo founded Lanzi’s Candy Company in 1920, has been on an exceptional journey, following Jerry’s quest to get Lanzi’s back onto shelves and into the mouths of Chicago’s candy connoisseurs. Lahey’s documentary film, Shelf Life reveals what it takes to satisfy a nation’s sweet tooth in a story both personal and universal. In addition to documenting Jerry’s quest, Lahey rediscovers his immigrant family’s remarkable history, and unwraps his city’s sugar-coated past.

Click HERE to watch the trailer for the film on YouTube.

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