Fat Facts About the McDonalds Big Mac

by J. M. Pressley
First published: February 14, 2008

As the Big Mac celebrates forty-plus years of sales, it remains a multi-faceted symbol of America: capitalism, commercialism, and cholesterol.

Uniontown, Pennsylvania was the site of a fast-food revolution. In 1967, local McDonald's franchisee Jim Delligatti started serving a double-decker cheeseburger on a special double-cut bun—it kept the special sauce from making the sandwich a mess. The sandwich debuted later that year as a test-market menu item in three Pittsburgh stores. Corporate headquarters, cautious at first, unveiled the sandwich nationwide in 1968, dubbing it the "Big Attraction." It may have owed much of its inspiration to the Big Boy burger (two patties on a double-cut bun with Thousand Island dressing), but the Big Mac is the one we remember.

Seven years later, as a result of the "Big Mac Attack" ad campaign of 1975, millions of Americans came to know the ingredients by heart: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions—on a sesame-seed bun. It's an icon to many, even if it has a negative image among quite a few.

It should be pointed out, however, that the Big Mac (540 calories, 29g fat) compares almost favorably against a Whopper with cheese and all the trimmings (760 calories, 47g fat), a Wendy's quarter-pound single with cheese (500 calories, 26g fat), a Hardee's Thickburger (910 calories, 64g fat), a Sonic Cheesburger with mayo (700 calories, 42g fat) or even a 10-sack of sliders from White Castle (1700 calories, 90g fat).

As the Big Mac celebrates forty-plus years of sales, it remains a multi-faceted symbol of America: capitalism, commercialism, and cholesterol. In fact, The Economist created the "Big Mac Index" as a means to illustrate currency exchange theory. The Economist describes it as "arguably the world's most accurate financial indicator to be based on a fast-food item."

In 2007, Mike Delligatti (Jim's son, also a McDonald's franchisee) opened the McDonald's Big Mac Museum Restaurant in North Huntington, Pennsylvania in tribute to his father's creation. Visitors can be photographed in front of the world's largest Big Mac, which measures at 14 feet by 12 feet.

Big Mac Trivia

  • The original sales price of a Big Mac: $0.45
  • Average U.S. sales price of a Big Mac today: $3.00
  • McDonald's sells approximately 550 million Big Macs annually in the U.S.
  • The Big Mac is sold in approximately 120 countries
  • The average number of sesame seeds on a Big Mac bun is 178
  • Each Big Mac uses two squirts (1/3 of an ounce) of special sauce
  • To celebrate the 25th anniversary in 1992, Pittsburgh was temporarily renamed Big Mac, USA
  • Jim Delligatti is nearly 90 and still eats an average of one Big Mac a week

Sources

Big Mac Museum Restaurant, Burger King, Hardee's, McDonald's, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sonic Drive-In, Wendy's, White Castle