Lanzi's Cashew Nut & Rice Crunch - Gastro Obscura


Lanzi's Cashew Nut & Rice Crunch

Candy makers recently resurrected this crispy Chicago confection from the graveyard of vintage sweets.

An Italian immigrant named Elmo Lanzi opened up his first candy shop in Chicago in 1920. Nearly 40 years later, following a brief retirement, he invented the confection that would bring his business fame. Lanzi named the fusion of creamy butterscotch, cashews, and crisped rice “Cashew Nut and Rice Crunch.” Before long, demand for the buttery-sweet, crispy treat far exceeded supply.

In 1973, at the age of 78, Lanzi sold the company, though he remained involved as head candy maker and chairman of the board. The new owners focused on company sales growth, expanding the brand both nationally and internationally. Guy Lombardo, a renowned bandleader, became a spokesman, even hosting signings where he autographed fans’ candy boxes. At one point in the 1970s, American Airlines served Cashew Nut and Rice Crunch in first class. As production costs increased, the owners decided to split and sell the company to two different businesses, and Lanzi’s Candy disappeared.

Decades later, fans were still bemoaning the loss of the Cashew Nut and Rice Crunch. In 2005, a businessman named Jerry Ostermann set out to bring back his beloved candy. Today, Chicago Candy Works re-creates the original confection. The treat’s availability is nowhere near what it was during Lanzi’s heyday, but you can still track it down in local shops around the Chicago area.

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a alankstewart