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Editorials

A Western Pa. inspiration: The man behind the Big Mac

| Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, 7:12 a.m.

Western Pennsylvania, the nation and the world could use more small businessmen like Big Mac inventor Michael “Jim” Delligatti, who died last week at age 98.

A Uniontown-based McDonald's franchisee, Mr. Delligatti came up with the recipe for a global fast-food icon in 1967. His Big Mac quickly became a hit at his 47 restaurants.

Illinois-based McDonald's initially resisted adding the bigger burger to its successful, simple lineup, but took it national in 1968. And when a TV-ad jingle touting the Big Mac's signature combination of “two all-beef patties, ‘special sauce,' lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun” became a sort of pre-internet meme in the mid-1970s, Delligatti's creation secured a place of honor in pop culture, too.

The Big Mac was an extraordinary accomplishment, but hardly his only one. Building a thriving, enduring operation in food service, a field with a high failure rate, is notable in itself. And at a time when protesters who don't grasp basic economics demand that McDonald's pay employees at least $15 an hour, it's worth remembering that Delligatti provided jobs that served as the first rungs on the employment ladder for countless young people — who have since climbed that ladder to successes of their own.

We join Delligatti's loved ones, and Big Mac lovers everywhere, in mourning his passing. His like won't be seen again soon, if ever. But his legacy lives on with every Big Mac served.

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