For over 50 years, people all over the world have been going crazy for what has become a staple item on the McDonald’s menu: the Big Mac. Since its conception, the burger has been garnering a repertoire of interesting – and sometimes ridiculous – trivia. These untold truths about the McDonald’s Big Mac will make for great talking points for the next time you and your friends hit up the restaurant, so here are ten of the best.
10. How it All Began…
Today, it’s impossible to imagine a McDonald’s menu without at least some variation of the Big Mac, but, surprisingly enough, it hasn’t always been there. The fast food chain had been up and running for over ten years before the burger was officially introduced to the masses. Its creation is credited to Jim Delligatti, who owned a McDonald’s in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. During the 1960’s, Pittsburgh and its surrounding regions were huge contributors to the world’s steel industry, and many men who were employed by the steel mills would stop by the restaurant after working long and exhausting shifts. A lot of these steelworkers were regulars, and it wasn’t long before Delligatti realized that no regular burger could ever satisfy the appetites they’d built up over hours of intense physical labour. He began to strategize ways to create a cheeseburger that would actually succeed in filling them up. He doubled up the patties, added a third bun, threw in some pickles and onions, and slowly, but surely, the Big Mac was born. Anyone who’s ever eaten a Big Mac can testify to the fact that Delligatti succeeded in creating a burger filling enough to satisfy even the hungriest of us. The Big Mac was sold in the Greater Pittsburgh Region starting in 1967, and in 1968 it was introduced into McDonald’s all over America. The rest is history.
9. Hometown Pride
Over the years, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has come to be known by several nicknames. It’s been called “The Steel City,” due to its history as one of the largest steel producers in the world, “The City of Bridges,” because it’s home to over 400 bridges, and “The ‘Burgh,” for obvious reasons. These are just a few of the many nicknames you may have heard people refer to Pittsburgh by, but there’s another, lesser known name that the city was given in celebration of the Big Mac. Uniontown, the birthplace of the Big Mac, is located in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, and it’s safe to say that the city is very proud to be able to take credit for the creation of this famous burger. Thus, in 1992, when the Big Mac celebrated its 25th birthday, Pittsburgh pulled out all the stops. On September 25, Pittsburgh was renamed “Big Mac, U.S.A”, and for one day, and one day only, the city was known by yet another name. Obviously (and maybe unfortunately?), this change couldn’t be kept permanently, but it was still a great way to pay tribute to one of American’s favourite fast food meals.
8. Same Restaurant, Different Burger
Everyone knows the ingredients to the classic McDonald’s Big Mac. Sesame seed bun, two beef patties, lettuce, onion, pickles, American cheese and, of course, the special sauce. However, all around the world, you can find many variations of the iconic burger, each with their own unique twist. Many of these were created to accommodate religious dietary restrictions, while others are simply the product of creativity and experimentation. Specific to Alaska is the McKinley Mac, which replaces the traditional 1.6-ounce patties with quarter pounders. In Israel is the Kosher Big Mac, which is served without cheese. The Maharaja Mac is sold in Indian McDonald’s and uses chicken patties instead of beef. The Mega Mac is an absolute monstrosity, containing four patties and extra cheese, and is sold in many countries, including Canada, China, Pakistan and South Korea. Along the same vein is the Giga Big Mac, which can be found in Japan and contains three times as much meat as the regular Big Mac. That’s one way to get your protein in. On the other hand, if you want to tone it down a bit, in New Zealand you can order the Son of Mac, which contains only one patty and no center bun.
7. The Big Mac Museum
Opened in 2007, the Big Mac Museum can be found in North Huntington, Pennsylvania. The museum was opened by Mike Delligatti, son of Big Mac mastermind, Jim Delligatti, and is loaded with historical memorabilia, making it a great place to brush up on your McDonald’s trivia. Screens throughout the museum play vignettes depicting the life of Big Mac creator, Jim Delligatti, as well as the history of the restaurant and its corresponding non-profit, Ronald McDonald House Charities. You’ll also find a 14-foot tall Big Mac statue, which sounds like a pretty good photo opportunity, in case you’re looking to up your Instagram game. It’s also home to a very lifelike bust of Delligati, which was made as a way of paying homage to the man who brought us the Big Mac. Of course, a McDonald’s museum wouldn’t be complete without a restaurant. After touring the museum, you and your family will be able to enjoy your Big Macs with newfound appreciation. On top of that, all the kids out there will be thrilled to hear that the restaurant is equipped with a deluxe Play Place. Next time you’re in Pennsylvania, consider adding this one-of-a-kind tourist attraction to your itinerary.
6. Just the Bill, Please
Just like anything else, the price of the Big Mac has inflated over time. When they were first introduced to the public in 1967, they cost just 45 cents, which is crazy to think about. Today, in most Canadian and American McDonald’s you can expect to spend about five dollars, give or take a few cents, when you buy a Big Mac. This seems pretty reasonable, considering the sheer amount of food you get with each serving. When travelling abroad, you’ll see McDonald’s restaurants everywhere, and while the golden arches may stay the same, you’ll find that there’s a definite difference in the pricing. The most expensive Big Mac in the world is sold in Switzerland, which makes sense, since the cost of living there is pretty high. If you ever find yourself in a Swiss McD’s, you might want to choose something else off the menu, unless you’re okay with dropping almost seven dollars on a burger. Alternatively, load up on the Big Macs when you’re in Ukraine, which is home to the world’s cheapest Big Mac. They go for less than two dollars! You can also find cheap Big Macs in places like Russia, Malaysia and South Africa, where they’re sold for around $2.50.
5. Big Mac’s Biggest Fan
You might think you love the Big Mac, but does anyone really love it as much as Donald Gorske? Probably not. The Wisconsin native holds the world record for most Big Macs eaten by a single person. Guinness World Records officially awarded him this title in 2006, but that didn’t slow him down. In May 2018, his total burger count broke 30,000. He accomplished this over several decades, eating an average of two Big Macs a day since 1972. It’s shocking that he hasn’t gotten sick of it, but Gorske claims the burger to be his favourite food and loves it just as much today as he did back in 1972. He kept track of his progress throughout the years, saving receipts, wrappers and bags, and by keeping records in notebooks. You can’t say he’s not dedicated. In addition to all that, he’s also a published author. His novel 22, 477 Big Macs was released in 2008, and recounts his life’s journey to become the Big Mac’s number one fan. The most surprising thing about all this isn’t the fact that Gorske’s eaten over 30,000 Big Macs, it’s the fact that he’s eaten 30,000 Big Macs and claims to be in perfect health. The world works in mysterious ways.
4. Name Dropping in Rap Songs
Over the years, McDonald’s has concocted several marketing schemes and many of them were successful. A lot of this advertisement involved music in some way, shape, or form. For example, most people are familiar with at least a couple of McDonald’s jingles. From “I’m lovin’ it” to the Big Mac jingle, they’re unforgettable and instantly recognizable. You’ve probably had one stuck in your head at some point. But apparently, having its own iconic jingles wasn’t enough for McDonald’s. In 2005, the company decided that it was time to delve deeper into the world of music, specifically, rap music. Now, McDonald’s wasn’t going to be producing or recording any of the songs itself. The deal was that if established rappers name-dropped the Big Mac in a song, they would receive five dollars from McDonald’s every time that song was played on the radio. This isn’t unheard of – rappers like Kanye West and Busta Rhymes have made fortunes off of product placement in their songs. Nevertheless, this marketing ploy wasn’t exactly the most successful of McDonald’s advertisement campaigns and never really took off, which is a shame. Imagine the material Kanye could’ve come up with using the burger as inspiration. Truly a missed opportunity.
3. History of the Special Sauce
One of the key ingredients of the Big Mac is the special sauce. This seemingly simple condiment has a history as long and interesting as that of the Big Mac itself. Originally, it was known as “Secret Sauce,” and it wasn’t until one of those previously mentioned jingles dropped in 1974 (“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles on a sesame seed bun” – you know it). It’s not just the name that’s changed. The recipe itself has been tweaked and updated over the years as well. At the time of the birth of the Big Mac, there were two different recipes for the sauce being used, each of them performing equally well. In 1972, the decision was made to combine elements from both versions to make the ultimate sauce. This was the recipe that was used until 1991, when the decision was made to shake things up a little bit. However, in 2004, the CEO decided to swap back to the original recipe. With all this talk about recipes, you might be wondering what actually goes into making the Special Sauce? Well, no one knew until 2012, when McDonald’s finally let the cat out of the bag. The once secret list of ingredients includes mayo, sweet relish, yellow mustard, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Another interesting fact about the famous condiment is that it’s applied to each Big Mac with a specially calibrated dispenser, similar to a caulking gun, which ensures that the optimal amount of sauce is applied to each burger in a uniform fashion.
2. What’s in a Name?
A Big Mac by any other name would taste just as savoury. The moniker is so famous that it’s difficult to imagine the burger being called anything else, but it very nearly was. Back when the burger was young, the company experimented with many possible names, including “Big Attraction”, “The Aristocrat” and “Blue Ribbon Burger”. Admittedly, not the greatest material. Before the burger was officially released, trial runs were held using the name “The Aristocrat” and it wasn’t well received at all. Since no one liked the name, the burger needed to be rechristened, and the advertising team was forced to get back to the drawing board. However, they had a lot of trouble coming up with anything better. So how did the Big Mac get its name? It’s all thanks to a woman named Esther Glickstein, who, at the time, was working as a secretary in the McDonald’s advertising department. Her suggestion of the name “Big Mac” was initially laughed at by her superiors, which now looks a bit awkward for them. After all, here we are over 50 years later, and the name is known worldwide. Esther’s story is pretty inspirational in that sense.
1. The Big Mac Index
The fact that the Big Mac is a huge money maker for McDonald’s is not at all surprising to hear. It’s second only to fries in terms of sales and has been a hit since its creation. In 1969, a year after its public release, it was already generating almost twenty percent of McDonald’s income. Due to its international popularity, The Economist created the Big Mac Index in 1986. The index was used to examine how market exchange rates can lead to goods being similarly priced in different countries, as well as to gauge the purchasing power parity between different currencies. It does so by using the price of a Big Mac as a reference point. It’s purely informal, but still quite informative. The Big Mac Index has stood the test of time and is still in use today, and a quick Internet search will give you a look at what’s going on in the current economy. It’s a bit more accessible than more formal reports for those of us who are less interested or well-versed in economic matters, as it presents the information in a fun and interesting, but still educational, way.