Michael James “Jim” Delligatti was a McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCD) franchisee that created the Big Mac almost 50 years ago. Delligatti passed away on Monday at his home in Pittsburgh. Delligatti lived to 98. Before his body began to fail a few years ago, Delligatti had at least one Big Mac a week, his son Michael said.
Delligatti invented the signature burger in 1967 in his franchise located in Uniontown, not too far from Pittsburgh. He had decided that customers wanted a bigger sandwich. McDonald’s executives limited Delligatti to only ingredients that were already stocked in the restaurant. “He was often asked why he named it the Big Mac, and he said because Big Mc sounded too funny,” Michael said.
Delligatti had told The Associated Press that Mcdonald’s was opposed to it at first due to its current line-up of products were selling well. “They figured, why go to something else if (the original menu) was working so well?” Delligati said back then. “But it went over so well in Uniontown that we were allowed to bring it to two stores in Pittsburgh for a couple of weeks.” Demand for the Big Mac spread to his other 47 stores in Pennsylvania and was finally added to McDonald’s national menu in 1968.
McDonald’s estimates that 550 million Big Macs are sold each year in the U.S. alone or 17 per second for the whole year.