Germany sweetens departure of longtime chancellor with marzipan Merkel

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - After 16 era-defining years at the helm of Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is standing down - so a traditional marzipan manufacturer is hoping to sweeten her departure with a special souvenir for her fans.

"It's a souvenir for fans, or non-fans, of Angela Merkel who is standing down and who has completed her service. And so we hope that the one or other person will put her up somewhere at home," said Thomas Zuber, manager of Odenwaelder Marzipan in the state of Bavaria in southwestern Germany.

"We have made them so that they last for two years, so people can extend Merkel's time for another two years," Zuber added with a chuckle.

The marzipan confectioner has been in operation for 40 years, and while the family-run business now has machinery to do some of the mass production, it has held on to its handmade skills as well.

"Mrs Merkel is a special edition for us. We will be producing some 500 pieces," Zuber said. The company designed a handmade Merkel mould which is then filled with marzipan.

The family business came up with its Merkel souvenir idea a couple of months ago and is working to complete the line with its eight-person team. The first batch will take the team two days to complete and comprises eight stages of preparation.

The race is now on for a new chancellor of Germany. The Sept. 26 election pits Social Democrat candidate Olaf Scholz against conservative rival Armin Laschet and Annalena Baerbock of the Greens.

(Reporting by Annkathrin Weiss and Hakan Erdem in Frankfurt; Writing by Tanya Wood and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Matthew Lewis)