50 years on, McDonald’s and fast-food evolve around Big Mac
By CANDICE CHOI
As with many of its popular and long-lasting menu items, the idea for the Big Mac came from a franchisee.
In 1967, Michael James “Jim” Delligatti lobbied the company to let him test the burger at his Pittsburgh restaurants. Later, he acknowledged the Big Mac’s similarity to a popular sandwich sold by the Big Boy chain.
“This wasn’t like discovering the light bulb. The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket,” Delligatti said, according to “Behind the Arches.”
McDonald’s agreed to let Delligatti sell the sandwich at a single location, on the condition that he use the company’s standard bun. It didn’t work. Delligatti tried a bigger sesame seed bun, and the burger soon lifted sales by more than 12 percent.
After similar results at more stores, the Big Mac was added to the national menu in 1968. Other ideas from franchisees that hit the big time include the Filet-O-Fish, Egg McMuffin, Apple Pie (once deep-fried but now baked), and the Shamrock Shake.
“The company has benefited from the ingenuity of its small business men,” wrote Ray Kroc, who transformed the McDonald’s into a global franchise, in his book, “Grinding It Out.”