Michael “Jim” Delligatti, inventor of the famous McDonald’s Big Mac, died Monday, Nov. 28, in his home in Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania, at 98 years old.
Delligatti was born Aug. 2, 1918, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. In 1953, After working a series of odd jobs and serving in the Army, Delligatti and his friend John Sweeney jumped into the drive-in restaurant business and opened Delney’s, according to The New York Times.
Two years later, McDonald’s caught Delligatti’s attention at a restaurant trade show in Chicago. In 1957, he opened a McDonald’s in Pittsburgh and became one of the company’s earliest franchisees. He went on to open 47 more locations in the next quarter of a century, the Times reported.
Delligatti created the signature Big Mac in 1967 to meet customer demands for a bigger sandwich. The craze spread to other stores in Pennsylvania and then went nationwide in 1968, according to Associated Press.
His son, Michael Delligatti, told AP that his father named the sandwich “Big Mac” because he thought it sounded funny. However, the fast-food chain credited its secretary of the advertising department, Esther Glickstein Rose, for coming up with the name in 1985. Delligatti’s family disputes the story.
Since its creation, billions of Big Macs have been sold in more than 100 countries. At the burger’s 40th anniversary, the company estimated it was selling roughly 17 every second, AP reported.
Delligatti's funeral will be held Saturday, Dec. 3, at St. Joseph's Parish in O'Hara Township in Pennsylvania.