#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 21 April 2021
Advertisement

Creator of Big Mac dies at age of 98

Jim Delligatti’s son said his late father ate at least one 540-calorie Big Mac a week for decades.

In this 2008, photo, Big Mac creator Michael
In this 2008, photo, Big Mac creator Michael "Jim" Delligatti sits behind a Big Mac birthday cake at his 90th birthday.
Image: AP

YOU PROBABLY DON’T know his name, but you might have eaten his creation: the Big Mac.

Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, who created the famous McDonald’s burger nearly 50 years ago, died on Monday at his 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 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.

However, McDonald’s in 1985 honored Esther Glickstein Rose with coming up for a name for the burger and presented her with a plaque etched with a likeness of the best-selling sandwich and french fries between the Golden Arches.

She was a 21-year-old secretary for the company’s advertising department in 1967 when, the story goes, a harried executive dashing to a board meeting asked her for a name nomination.

Delligatti’s family disputes that Rose came up with the idea. The company didn’t immediately clear up the dispute when asked about it today.

Delligatti told the Associated Press 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 at the time.

Billions of Big Macs

McDonald’s has sold billions of Big Macs since then, in more than 100 countries. When the burger turned 40, McDonald’s estimated it was selling 550 million Big Macs a year, or roughly 17 every second. Delligatti received no payment or royalties for coming up with the burger, the company said.

“Delligatti was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand,” the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said today in a statement. The Big Mac, it said, “has become an iconic sandwich enjoyed by many around the world”.

Ann Dugan, a former assistant dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business and an expert on business franchises, said Delligatti’s genius was simple: He listened to customers who wanted a bigger burger.

“In franchising, there’s always this set playbook and you have to follow it. Jim saw an opportunity to go outside the playbook because he knew the customer,” Dugan said. “He persevered and (McDonald’s) listened, and the rest is history.”

Read: ‘Total failure, electric and fuel’ – Frantic audio between pilot and controllers before fatal air crash

Read: Netflix users can now download films and TV shows

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (30)