McDonald’s and the Big Mac may seem like they have been together forever, but actually, the fast food chain flourished for years before the Big Mac was even introduced. Though the original McDonald’s restaurant was founded in 1940, and the biggest name in McDonald’s history, Ray Kroc, opened his first location in 1955, the Big Mac didn’t come into existence until April 22, 1967 – when franchise owner Michael “Jim” Delligatti put it on his menu.
Sadly, Delligatti passed away on Monday at the age of 98, but his legacy won’t be forgotten by McDonald’s patrons around the world, probably for generations to come.
Delligatti first began selling a burger featuring “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun” for just 45 cents at one of his franchise locations in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Even the infamous “special sauce” was his invention – later revealed to be a mix of mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, yellow mustard, white wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.
By 1968, the Big Mac was added to all McDonald’s menus nationwide. And according to the New York Times, by 1969, the sandwich accounted for an astonishing 19 percent of the burger chain’s sales. From those humble roots outside of Pittsburgh, approximately 550 million Big Macs are now sold in the US every year, and the sandwich can be found in over 100 other countries around the world.
However, as an interesting aside, though the Big Mac surely helped increase the value of the 47 McDonald’s locations he owned, Delligatti supposedly never got any additional compensation or royalties for creating the brand’s most iconic burger. “All I got was a plaque,” he reportedly said in 2007. Man, talk about being Hamburglared. Still, we should all be so lucky to live on forever in burger form.