The Pittsburgh-area McDonald's franchisee who created the Big Mac nearly 50 years ago has died.
Michael 'Jim' Delligatti was 98.
McDonald's spokeswoman Kerry Ford confirmed that Delligatti died at home surrounded by his family on Monday night.
Delligatti's franchise was based in Uniontown when in 1967 he invented the chain's signature burger with two all-beef patties, 'special sauce,' lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.
Delligatti told The Associated Press in 2006 that Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's resisted the idea at first because its simple lineup of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes was selling well.
But Delligatti wanted to offer a bigger burger and it went over so well it spread to the rest of Delligatti's 47 stores, then went national in 1968.
'I felt that we needed a big sandwich,' the Delligatti told Reuters in a 2007 interview. 'But you couldn't do anything unless they gave you permission.'
To Delligatti's delight, the product was 'an immediate success,' he said, adding that the recipe has not really changed in the 40 years.
'The first day we just used the regular bun, we didn't have any center (bread) slice,' Delligatti said. 'Making it that way made it very sloppy. The next day we put the center slice in, and today it looks the same.'
When Delligatti created the Big Mac in 1967, it cost 45 cents and McDonald's had just 1,000 restaurants.
Despite its ubiquity, Delligatti said he never received much from McDonald's for creating the Big Mac.
'All I got for the Big Mac was a plaque,' he said, adding that he prefers eating the chain's Hotcakes and Sausage, another menu item for which he is responsible.
The Michigan State graduated started his business in 1956 after learning about McDonald's during a trip to the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago.