For 60 years, 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.

Candy is good food

Now, 25 years after Lanzi's candy was last produced in Chicago, entrepreneur Jerry Ostermann has set out to bring Lanzi's Cashew Nut and Rice Crunch back to the city. One problem: he has neither the recipe nor the machinery to make it.

Lanzi's Cashew Nut Crunch
Elmo Lanzi

Filmmaker Michael Lahey, whose grandfather Elmo founded Lanzi's in 1920, follows Jerry's quest to get Lanzi's back onto shelves and into the mouths of Chicago's candy connoisseurs. At the same time, Lahey rediscovers his immigrant family's remarkable history, and unwraps his city's sugar-coated past. Shelf Life reveals what it takes to satisfy a nation's sweet tooth in a story both personal and universal.