Jochen Luebke / EPA
The missing golden Leibniz cookie hangs from the statue of a horse in front of the Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, on Tuesday.
MAINZ, Germany — Germany's famous "golden cookie" hostage may have been freed — released by none other than a Teutonic version of the Cookie Monster himself.
Police found a golden cookie hanging from a statue outside Leipniz University in Hannover Tuesday morning, several weeks after a metal cookie emblem was stolen from the headquarters of a German food company.
The 44-pound cookie emblem was taken from a statue outside the headquarters of German food giant Bahlsen in January. It had been a company landmark since 1913.
Local Hannover newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine then received a ransom note signed by the "Cookie Monster" – complete with letters cut out of newspapers and a photo of the blue-haired "Sesame Street" character biting the golden treat.
The kidnapper demanded that a shipment of cookies be sent to a local children's hospital.
Last week the head of the company, Werner Bahlsen, offered to donate 52,000 packets of the manufacturer's popular Leipniz cookies to 52 different organizations after the safe return of its precious pastry. He also stressed that his company would "refuse to be blackmailed."
Police specialists on Tuesday determined that the cookie found on the Leipniz University statue was "most likely" the original golden treat.
Courtesy HAZ / Michael Thomas
A ransom note signed by the Cookie Monster was sent to a German newspaper, along with a photograph of a person dressed up as the "Sesame Street" character.
"I am very happy and I hope that it is really our cookie and that we can soon put it up again," Werner Bahlsen said in a statement.
As for the mysterious thief, he — or she — is not lacking a sense of humor.
Less than a week after Hannoversche Allgemeine received the first ransom note, another letter arrived in the mail. Once again it included a photo of a person dressed in Cookie Monster costume, police said.
This time, it was good news.
"Because Werni loves the biscuit as much as I do and now always cries and misses the biscuit so badly, I'm giving it back to him," the kidnapper wrote.
"Werni" is a nickname for the German name Werner, a reference to Werner Bahlsen's public appeals for the safe return of his company emblem.
And it seems the culprit deliberately chose the Leipniz University location for the return of its golden hostage as a nod to Bahlsen's popular "Leibniz Cookie".
Werner Bahlsen said in a statement Tuesday that he would keep his promise of donating 52,000 packages of cookies — if the golden cookie turns out to be the real thing.