How a Rogue McDonald’s Franchisee Invented the Big Mac and Changed Fast Food Forever

The double-decker sandwich that fueled the fast-food industry

Jim Delligatti was frustrated. It was 1967, and Delligatti had been running a McDonald’s franchise for eight years. His market was Pittsburgh, and his bread-and-butter customers—men trudging to and from the steel mills—brought huge appetites in the door. But all Delligatti had for them was a regular cheeseburger. That’s when he decided to experiment a little. He put two beef patties into a new burger, adding lettuce, pickles and onions, plus a center bun to stabilize the thing. Finally, he added a “special sauce”—Thousand Island dressing, some have chided, though the recipe remains a secret. Delligatti was going to call his creation the “Big Mc,” but that didn’t sound right, so he opted for “Big Mac” instead.

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This story first appeared in the Feb. 27, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.