Fast food history is full of famous sandwiches. At some point over the years, almost every major brand has had a stab at stuffing something between two slices of bread and flogging it to a hungry public. Most have fallen by the wayside. Some, however, have managed to secure their status as junk food legends and reserve their space in the fast food hall of fame. The Big Mac is one such sandwich.
Eaten everywhere and beloved by billions, you could be forgiven for thinking that there’s not much more you could learn about the world’s best known burger. You would be mistaken. Behind the beef is a hidden history that proves that there’s a lot more to the legend than gherkins and secret sauce. Here are seven secrets you never knew about the McDonald’s Big Mac.
1. The inventor didn’t get paid enough
The Big Mac burst onto the scene in 1967, intended as a rival to Burger King’s runaway sandwich success; The Whopper. It was McDonald’s franchisee Jim Delligatti who brought in special seeded buns and created the iconic special sauce, before combining and stacking ingredients already found in every McDonald’s shop to come up with the perfect formula. Unfortunately, thanks to the structure of the business, Delligatti got nothing more than a plaque as the Big Mac went nationwide and company profits exploded.
2. It wasn’t always called “Big Mac”
Delligatti might have been a genius at burger building, but when it came to names he left a lot to be desired. To symbolise his new sandwich’s deluxe status, Delligatti originally named his new invention “The Aristocrat”. This proved unpopular with customers, so the name was changed again to “Blue Ribbon Burger”. It wasn’t until a young advertising secretary named Esther Rose came up with “Big Mac” that a name finally stuck.
3. Economists love it
So popular is the sandwich that it has its own index for measuring the relative purchasing power of various global currencies. The Big Mac Index, introduced in 1986, was originally intended as a joke, but has now become a global standard taught to economics students around the world.
4. It has some serious fans
2018 has been a seminal year for many reasons, but none have arguably been more momentous than the day which saw Don Gorske eat his 30,000th Big Mac. The Wisconsin local has eaten one of the sandwiches every day, bar eight, since 1972 and has the distinction of eating more of the sandwiches than any person living or dead.
5. The sauce is the key
If there’s one ingredient that makes a Big Mac a Big Mac it is the mysteriously alluring secret sauce. First developed by Delligatti, the recipe was changed in 1991, before reverting back to the original in 2004. According to a 2017 leak, the sauce contains an astounding 33 separate ingredients, making it nearly impossible to authentically reproduce. Small wonder then that the first ever bottle to go on sale in the UK raised nearly £75,000 at charity auction.
6. It has a museum
Fast food and culture might not be the most natural pairing in the world but that hasn’t prevented the powers that be from building the ultimate Big Mac monument. At the Big Mac Museum Restaurant in Pennsylvania, guests can enjoy the biggest Big Mac sculpture in the world, artifacts from the sandwich’s history and enjoy their food under the watchful eye of a bronze Delligatti statue.
7. It might not be around much longer
As hard as it is to imagine a world without this fast icon, the future might be grim for the Big Mac. In recent years, as the younger generation has become more focused on healthy eating, sales have begun to slump. In 2016, McDonald’s revealed that only around 20% of millennials had ever eaten a Big Mac, meaning that times and tastes could be changing.
Fortunately for fans, there’s very little danger of the Big Mac going away any time soon. There are still around 17 of the sandwiches sold every second in the US alone, making it one of the hottest products in the world today. Whether you like it or not, the Big Mac is still a serious player in the foodieverse.