The creator of the Big Mac, possibly the most famous fast food item known worldwide, Michael Jim Delligatti, passed away Monday in his Pittsburgh home at the age of 98.

The Legend

In remembrance of Mr. Delligatti, McDonald’s describes him as “a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand”. In addition, the Illinois based corporation Tweeted:

“Today, we celebrate the 98 inspirational years of Big Mac inventor, Michael ‘Jim’ Delligatti. Jim, we thank and will forever remember you.”

They also posted an iconic photograph of Mr.Delligatti lifting two Big Macs in either hand, followed by his personal quote: “I would never have dreamed that my creation would turn into a piece of Americana.”

Creating American Culture

The idea for the Big Mac was born in the late 1960s as a solution to the call for a larger burger, combining two beef-burger patties with what is now known to be standard burger ingredients: lettuce, pickles, cheese, and onion, all pilled between a sesame seed bun.

When asked about his father, Delligatti’s son recalls decades in which his father would eat a minimum of one Big Mac per week. He shared that whenever “asked why he named it the Big Mac, [Delligatti would always reply], because Big Mc sounded too funny.”

During an interview in 2007, Reuters asked Delligatti about the origins of the burger, to which he responded, “The first day we just used the regular bun, we didn’t have any center slice. Making it that way made it very sloppy. The next day we put the center slice in, and today it looks the same.”

The impact Michael Delligatti has made around the world is astonishing. Statistics reveal a total estimate of 550 million Big Macs bought each year, breaking down to approximately 17 of these iconic meals purchased every second.