Dist. 21 board member's role in candy industry highlighted in new film

  • Arlen Gould, from right, and Larry Zaslavsky are pictured at a trade show in the 1970s after purchasing Lanzi Candy Co. A new documentary details the history of the former Chicago candy company.

    Arlen Gould, from right, and Larry Zaslavsky are pictured at a trade show in the 1970s after purchasing Lanzi Candy Co. A new documentary details the history of the former Chicago candy company. Courtesy of Michael Lahey

  • Arlen Gould

    Arlen Gould

 
 
Updated 12/2/2019 9:13 PM

A longtime Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 school board member is featured in a new documentary about a Chicago candy company and his role in the rich history of the city's candy industry.

Arlen Gould was among those interviewed for the documentary "Shelf Life: The Story of Lanzi Candy," which tracks the history of the confectionery until its eventual demise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Gould, who's been a school board member since 1993 and has helped run local political campaigns in Arlington Heights, has spent his career in the food sales and marketing industry, getting inducted into the Specialty Food Association Hall of Fame in 2016.

He helped pioneer the popularity of specialty salad dressings and extra virgin olive oils in grocery stores, but it was in 1972 that he got his start in the candy business.

Gould, then 24, was out of a job as Illinois special education coordinator under Gov. Dick Ogilvie, who had lost the election to Dan Walker. Gould was applying for jobs in the Nixon White House, but his friend Larry Zaslavsky encouraged him to join his business venture to purchase Lanzi Candy Co. from founder Elmo Lanzi.

"I knew nothing about candy other than I liked to eat it," Gould said.

Gould and Zaslavsky took the company from $90,000 in annual sales to more than $2 million, growing its business across the U.S. and Europe, while expanding the popularity of Lanzi's cashew nut and rice crunch candy.

The film, directed by Elmo Lanzi's grandson Michael Lahey, will be shown at a screening at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, at York Theatre, 150 N. York St. in Elmhurst. A Q&A will following with the filmmaker.

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