Big Mac inventor dies at age 98

Published: December 1, 2016
Photo showing Bigmac burger. PHOTO: REUTERS

Photo showing Bigmac burger. PHOTO: REUTERS

The man who invented the quintessential American fast-food burger, the Big Mac, and inadvertently set off a race to create ever more expansive fast-food menus, has died.

Michael “Jim” Delligatti passed away Monday surrounded by family at his home in a Pittsburgh suburb, according to his family. He was 98 years old. Delligatti laid claim to one of the most indelible inventions in American cuisine since sliced bread — a double hamburger with two beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, which is covered in a special sauce.

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As owner of a McDonald’s restaurant in western Pennsylvania nearly half a century ago, Delligatti convinced the company to venture away from its brief menu of simple burgers, fries and drinks, according to a 1993 profile of the Big Mac in the Los Angeles Times. He got permission to try his new burger in 1967 and sales jumped 12 percent, the Times said. Within a few years, McDonald’s was advertising the Big Mac nationwide.

“This wasn’t like discovering the light bulb,” he said. “The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket.”

He said the idea came from rival burger restaurants in the mid-1960s. After the Big Mac’s invention, the company expanded its menu further, creating an age of new menu items such as the Egg McMuffin and Filet-o-Fish.

But, it was the Big Mac that became a cultural icon.

In a statement, McDonald’s said Delligatti was a “legendary franchisee” who made a “lasting impression” on the company.

“We will remember Jim as an insightful franchisee, a knowledgeable businessman,” the company said.

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McDonald’s says it sells hundreds of millions of the oversized burgers globally, although sales have slowed in recent years as millennials reportedly show less interest in super-sized fast food. According to Delligatti’s family he went on to own 48 McDonald’s restaurants.

He is survived by his wife Ellie, two children, and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • ironMan
    Dec 1, 2016 - 11:50AM

    RIP Sir. Your creation was the tastiest and will long be remembered. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Dec 1, 2016 - 12:48PM

    A sad day for Nawaz Sharif and son, no doubt…Recommend

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