Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Birthplace of the Big Mac

The Big Mac sandwich served at McDonald's restaurants is perhaps the most famous specialty hamburger in culinary history. What a lot of people don't know is that, like me, the Big Mac is a native of southwestern Pennsylvania. And also like me, it is thirty-eight years old (but the sandwich has a fresher taste). If we hadn't come from different counties, we might have gone to school together.

The Tribune-Review has a nice article about a fourth grader and his recent interview with the inventor of the famed sandwich. There are some pretty interesting tidbits in there, such as the fact that the inventor is 87 years old, still owns several McDonald's restaurants, and eats in his restaurants frequently. And he continues to profit from his invention:

The boy wondered if the inventor made any money on Big Macs sold around the world.

"Oh yes," Delligatti said seriously. "I get a dollar apiece."

Delligatti! That's a nice Italian name. So there's something else that I have in common with the Big Mac: We are both Italian food.

I am going to have a seriously difficult time keeping out of the McDonald's down the street from my office at lunch time today.


Aibe's Ghost said...

I realize that this is being nitpicking but the "Big Mac" is a total knockoff except for the recipe of the sauce of the "Big Boy" hamburger which was franchised nationally in the fifties right down to the three layer sesame seed bun and 3 pickles and shredded lettuce. The local franchisee was Eat'nPark until Elbe's the West Virginia Franchise started to put restaurants in western PA at which time Eat'nPark pulled out of the franchise agreement and created its "Superburger", again the same thing.
In the early sixties every small city in Southern Ohio had a fast food restaurant called Burger Chef and each of these had a "Big Chef" which was again a big boy knockoff except for the sauce which had a "thousand island" tint to it.
If Deligatti received a "dollar" royalty for every "Big Mac" he would be a multi billionaire like Gates and Buffet. I would personally have contributed tens of thousands to his retirement.

Nicko McDave said...

Hi, Ghost!

I loved Burger Chef when I was a kid, mainly because it was the only fast food burger joint anywhere near my neighborhood. McDonald's was something that only existed in television commercials until the downtown Pittsburgh location at the corner of Forbes and Stanwix opened in the late 1970s.

It occured to me at some point that every burger joint had some kind of double-decker cheeseburger with tangy orange-pink goo. (I actually prefer Burger King's Whopper.) I've drifted more towards Quarter Pounders and Double Cheeseburgers over the years, but I will get a Big Mac when I'm in the mood.

As far as the Big Mac's status as a total knockoff, well, you don't see people all over the world organizing protests against Superburgers and Big Boys, so Eat'n Park and the others are probably happy to see McDonald's get all the publicity.

When you say that "I would personally have contributed tens of thousands to his retirement", do you mean that you've eaten over 10,000 Big Macs in your lifetime, or that you so appalled at what he has done that you would be willing to cut him a check in a sizeable amount to make him go away?

Aibe's Ghost said...

I recalculated my consumption of big macs shortly after the comment and concluded the number was closer to 6,400 over 35 years. I literally lived on them since embarking on a midlife crisis when I was about your age in the early 80's and I ate thousands of them before then.
In the mid 70's a University of Florida nutrition professor created a national uproar when he postulated that the big mac was the best combination of protein, carbohydrates,and fat to fuel an active athlete in training. Unfortunately the prof had a thing for college boys and 3 for them murdered him for $ 115 he had lying around his house when they showed up "to party" with him.
I am "skeptical" of the royalty thing (my niece has worked on several patents for the big Aeorspace Corporation she is employed with and she receives "lump sum bonuses" for that activity.) I think he was just trying to express to the child interviewer in conceptual terms...I would be surprised if he nets more than a dime. (and I am well acquainted with a decades old promotion of 2 for $ 2.00).