McDonald’s Franchisee Who Invented the Big Mac, Michael ‘Jim’ Delligatti, Dies at 98

Big Mac creator Michael “Jim” Delligatti attends his 90th birthday party in 2008. Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

The man who created McDonald’s Big Mac, Michael “Jim” Delligatti, died at age 98 on Monday, November 28.

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Kerry Ford — a spokeswoman for the fast food chain — told the Associated Press on Wednesday, November 30, that Delligatti passed away at his Pittsburgh-area home surrounded by family and friends.

Delligatti was known for crafting the original Big Mac burger, which went on to become one of McDonald’s most popular menu items for nearly 50 years. The Pennsylvania native opened his own McDonald’s franchise in Uniontown the mid-‘60s and soon began looking for ways to expand McDonald’s’ bill of fare beyond hamburgers, fries and shakes.

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Delliganti decided to experiment with making the Mickey Ds burger better by adding two all-beef patties, “special sauce,” lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, and began selling it at his restaurant.

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During a 2006 interview with the AP, Delliganti revealed that McDonald’s initially opposed rolling out his invention to more of its restaurants because sales of the company’s burgers were already doing well. However, Delligatti — who went on to own and operate 47 McDonald’s locations — never gave up; and after a little bit of pushing, the Big Mac became a national sensation in 1968 after it was introduced to restaurants all over the U.S.

On Wednesday, McDonald’s paid tribute to Delliganti via the company’s official Twitter account, writing: “Today, we celebrate the 98 inspirational years of Big Mac inventor, Michael ‘Jim’ Delligatti. Jim, we thank and will forever remember you.” The fast food chain shared a photo and quote from the fast food inventor, saying: “I never would have dreamed that my creation would turn into a piece of Americana.”

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