PITTSBURGH // You probably don’t know his name, but you’ve almost certainly devoured his creation: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.
Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, the McDonald’s franchisee who created the Big Mac nearly 50 years ago and saw it become perhaps the best-known burger in the world, died on Monday at home in Pittsburgh. Delligatti, who according to his son ate at least one 540-calorie Big Mac a week for decades, was 98.
Delligatti’s franchise was based in Uniontown, not far from Pittsburgh, when he invented the chain’s signature burger in 1967 after deciding that customers wanted a bigger sandwich.
Demand exploded as Delligatti’s sandwich spread to the rest of his 47 stores in Pennsylvania and was added to the chain’s national menu in 1968.
“He was often asked why he named it the Big Mac, and he said because Big Mc sounded too funny,” his son Michael Delligatti said.
Jim Delligatti said in 2006 that McDonald’s resisted the idea at first because its simple lineup of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes was selling well.
“They figured, why go to something else if [the original menu] was working so well?” Delligatti said.
McDonald’s has sold billions of Big Macs since then, in more than 100 countries. When the burger turned 40, McDonald’s estimated that it was selling 550 million Big Macs a year, or roughly 17 every second.
“Delligatti was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand,” the Illinois-based company said on Wednesday. The Big Mac “has become an iconic sandwich enjoyed by many around the world”.
* Associated Press