Big Mac inventor dies

James Delligatti has died and he probably accomplished a lot more in his 98 years other than making a burger, but nobody’s going to be talking about that today because Delligatti invented the Big Mac.

He was a franchise owner in the Pittsburgh area and he thought McDonald’s needed a bigger sandwich to compete with other burger joints.

Typical of corporations, however, McDonald’s kept saying “no”, his grandson says, until it relented in 1967.

The Big Mac also gave us one of the more famous commercials of the day.

Related: A Meal Disguised as a Sandwich: The Big Mac (Penn State University)

  • MrE85
    • 55 cents when I worked at McDonald’s. I remember eating the first one; I couldn’t believe I finished the thing.

      Also remember how shocked I was around the same time when I traveled to new York City and found out THERE they sold for $1. A $1!!!!


      • Gary F

        Could you eat in the restaurant or was it just a take out version?

        • Bob Sinclair

          If Bob’s experience was like mine, you could eat at the restaurant, but only on break. Typically the break room was in the basement.
          The facility I worked at the time was the open window concept with no drive thru and no seating other than on the tile benches attached to the building

          • Gary F

            I was thinking more of whether the restaurant had customer seating or not. My wife remembers the day when there was no seating in the restaurant, I don’t.

          • None at our place, though there was an enclosure.

        • Ben

          In my day, you had to stand upside-down on the ceiling to eat your burger!
          Kidding aside, it must have been nice to have actual real food at a fast food joint.

      • Anna

        It was up to 59 cents by the time I finished college in 1980.

        It was definitely a favorite in the dorm since none of the cafeterias remained open on the weekends.

        Supposedly they are tweaking it by using bigger patties. I’m not sure where they are offering the bigger sandwich but I’m sure it will be coming to a McDonald’s near you in the not too distant future.

  • Bob Sinclair

    Showing my age: I was working at a McD’s when they first introduced the Big Mac. Operationally it was a challenge but it really helped the franchisees at the time.

    • You remember when we used to slap about 36 burgers on the grill at a time and we’d be flipping them during a rush like CRAZY….5taking 12 off…putting 12 more on…flipping the other 24. Then we’d put condiments on like a house afire and send them up.

      All of that is gone now, I notice. There’s just one person back there now and everything appears to be mostly automated.

      Worst job I ever had.

      • Bob Sinclair

        So how long did you work there?
        I lasted 3 months but had a quarter raise in that time.
        ( I was also only 15 when I started)

        • Seemed like I was there 20 years. I lasted about 7 months, I suspect.

      • Bob Sinclair

        How about trying to work up multiple shakes during a rush hour?

        • If you had a bunch of people from the counter making them too, and you took the shake off the machine just right, you could get a bunch of chocolate shake sprayed on them.

          • Bob Sinclair

            Oh my goodness the memories….

      • Gary F
      • >>Worst job I ever had<<

        …other than blog administrator in a heated online political discussion.

      • 212944

        When someone yelled, “Bus!” To the manager (meaning a school bus, usually a college or high school sports team), whoever ran the 10:1 grill went into “turn-lay” mode and anyone on break was called back to the floor. I worked at one near a university that also hosted state hs football games and track meets. I recall a few times of 10+ buses at once, which meant “sear-lay” for burgers/macs – as soon as you seared one set of 12, another set went down and you hurridly then flipped a third set before removing a fourth.

        In all the time I worked there, I never once saw anything hit the floor and not go into the garbage. It was also amazingly clean.

        • That happened to us once. “Bus!”, and we laid 36 burgers down.

          Then we found out it was empty and the driver was hungry.

          Our other pro tip: Put some apple pies down just before close at midnight. Then you got to take a bag of them home.

          • 212944

            Yup. Also, often shakes would be made and a basket or two of fries dropped by mistake just before close. Often at the insistence of the maintenance guys, just showing up for their overnight shifts.

  • Mike Worcester

    Ear worm alert! 🙂

  • Nikki

    The WSJ did an article about the Big Mac and Millennials in October. Apparently only 1 in 5 millennials has ever tried one. I’m part of the 80% (but I’ve also been a vegetarian since 16, so not a good example!)

    • Jerry

      In regards to the Big Mac, you’re not missing much.