Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchisee who in 1967 introduced the Big Mac sandwich that quickly spread throughout the world’s biggest restaurant chain, has died. He was 98.
After Delligatti started selling the Big Mac in his Uniontown, Pennsylvania, franchise, McDonald’s introduced it nationally in 1968. On the product’s 40th anniversary, the company said it was selling 550 million Big Macs a year. The sandwich — two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions in a sesame seed bun — hasn’t changed and are sold in more than 100 countries around the world.
McDonald’s was initially reluctant to embrace the Big Mac, according to Delligatti. “They felt they had everything they needed at the time,” he said. After franchisees in Toledo, Ohio, embraced the new product, the company introduced the Big Mac nationwide.
Dellgatti was also instrumental in introducing breakfast service at the chain, including hotcakes and sausages he fed to hungry steelworkers on their way home from Pittsburgh-area steel mills, according to a family obituary. He owned more than 40 McDonald’s locations in western Pennsylvania.
Over the past five decades, McDonald’s franchisees have been responsible for some of the chains most successful menu items. Apple pies and Egg McMuffins also were created by independent operators, who own about 90 percent of the company’s restaurants in the U.S.
Since 1986, the Economist magazine has used the price of a Big Mac as a measure of purchasing-power parity among currencies. In July 2016, the Big Mac in America was $5.04 and in China sold for the equivalent of $2.79, indicating the yuan was undervalued by 45 percent. The sandwich was priced at 45 cents when Delligatti first put it on his menu.