Inventor of the Big Mac dies at 98
The Pennsylvania franchisee opened 47 branches of the fast food store
Michael “Jim” Delligatti the Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee who created the Big Mac in 1967, has died aged 98.
Michael “Jim” Delligatti the Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee who created the Big Mac in 1967, has died aged 98. Photograph: Gene J. Puskar/AP
The creator of the McDonald’s Big Mac burger has died, at the age of 98. Michael ‘Jim’ Delligatti was one of the burger chain’s first franchisees and went on to open 47 stores in the US.
His branch in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was where the pimped up double burger with two patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and “secret sauce” was invented in 1967.
At first, Delligatti’s idea of serving a bigger burger was not taken on board. He told the Associated Press in 2006 that McDonald’s resisted the idea at first because its core range of hamburgers and cheese burgers was selling solidly.
But the lure of the double beef burger and that tangy sauce paid off, and having spread to Delligatti’s 47 stores, it went on sale nationally in 1968. Today, it is the same secret recipe that is used in Big Macs sold in more than 100 countries worldwide.
The ubiquity of the fast food snack became such that it even spawned an economic index. The Big Mac Index was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted way of measuring the purchasing power parity (PPP) between two currencies.
Delligatti’s culinary inventiveness also spread to the McDonald’s breakfast menu, which he was involved in creating. According to an obituary written by his family and made available by McDonald’s, he designed the hotcakes and sausage meal to appeal to Pittsburgh area steel workers at the end of their overnight shifts.
Delligatti, whose 90th birthday celebrations were marked by a cake in the shape of giant Big Mac, died at his home on Monday night. The legacy of the Big Mac inventor lives on in “the four generations of family members running great restaurants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina”, according to a statement from the fast food company. His sons and two of his grandchildren are McDonald’s franchisees.