McDonald’s has been around for 61 years, but its most well-known offering, the Big Mac, wasn’t even on the menu until more than a decade into the chain’s history. It was the creation of Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, a franchise owner in Uniontown, Pa. This week, Delligatti died at 98 at his home in Fox Chapel, Pa.
Today, we celebrate the 98 inspirational years of Big Mac inventor, Michael “Jim” Delligatti. Jim, we thank and will forever remember you. pic.twitter.com/wmEFrmazdn
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) November 30, 2016
In 1967, Delligatti had to work to convince the higher-ups that the 45-cent burger was worth the risk. It took only a year for the now-iconic sandwich to land on the restaurant’s national menu. Today, it is available in more than 100 countries.
The Golden Arches recently added two new Big Mac options for diners: an even bigger and a slightly smaller burger. These ideas originated at franchise locations in Ohio and Texas.
Read on for ten facts about innovative franchisee Jim Delligatti.
10. Delligatti decided to open a McDonald’s after meeting founder Ray Kroc at a restaurant trade show in Chicago in 1955.
9. He was the first person to own a McDonald’s in western Pennsylvania. He opened his first location in the Pittsburgh suburbs in 1957.
8. During World War II, he served in the army and was stationed in Europe.
7. After the war, he hitchhiked from West Virginia to California, He first got into the restaurant industry by working at drive-ins and managing a Big Boy.
6. Over the course of 25 years, Delligatti opened 48 stores across Pennsylvania.
5. For the burger’s 40th birthday in 2007, he opened a Big Mac Museum Restaurant in North Huntingdon, Pa. Visitors can see not only a statue of Delligatti, but also the largest Big Mac in the world – a 12- by 14-foot bronze sculpture.
4. Delligatti reportedly never tired of his creation, and he ate one Big Mac every week according to his family.
3. You can thank him for those breakfast sandwiches. He was among the first to serve breakfast at McDonald’s. He put hotcakes and sausage on the menu to feed his customers who worked long, late shifts at steel mills.
2. He helped launch the seventh Ronald McDonald House, which opened its doors in Pittsburgh in 1979.
1. McDonald’s became a Delligatti family business. His two children and two of his grandkids are also franchisees.