Speed Reads

RIP

Jim Delligatti, inventor of the Big Mac, dies at 98

The man behind the Big Mac, McDonald's franchisee Michael James "Jim" Delligatti, died Monday in Pittsburgh. He was 98.

In a statement, McDonald's called the Big Mac an "iconic sandwich enjoyed by many around the world," with Delligatti making a "lasting impression on our brand." Delligatti came up with the signature McDonald's menu item — two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and special sauce on a sesame seed bun — almost 50 years ago at his Uniontown, Pennsylvania, store, after listening to customers who said they wanted a bigger burger. He told The Associated Press in 2006 that McDonald's at first pushed back against the new product, because original menu items like cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes were already selling well, but the company told him he could experiment using ingredients he already had on hand.

The Big Mac, so named because "it sounded too funny," became popular at all of Delligatti's franchises in Pennsylvania, and it was added to the national menu in 1968. During the burger's 40th anniversary, McDonald's estimated it sold one Big Mac every 17 seconds. Delligatti's son, Michael, told AP that until a few years ago, when his health started to decline, his father ate at least one Big Mac a week.