Across Boston, lovers of McDonald’s most famous sandwich, the Big Mac, are mourning the loss of the iconic fast-food creation’s innovator, who died yesterday at 98.
Michael James “Jim” Delligatti owned a McDonald’s franchise outside Pittsburgh in 1967 when he created the double-stacked burger with secret sauce. It took off nationally in 1968.
Under the golden arches on Massachusetts Avenue last night, members of the Boston Collegiate Charter School basketball team saluted the late burgermeister.
“I think he created one of the best sandwiches I ever tried,” said Sean Connolly of Dorchester. “It definitely became one of my favorite sandwiches about five or six years ago.”
Jahleel Alieu, 18, of Mattapan said Big Macs were once part of his pre-game ritual. “I want to first off say, ‘Rest in peace,’ to Mr. Delligatti,” he said. “From the three buns, to the cheese, down to the special sauce. Oh my gosh. I remember eating them before every basketball game at one point in my life. It was my freshman or sophomore season and I racked up a 40-point game my sophomore season.”
Teammate Kevin McCarthy said for a time his Twitter handle was Big Mac 28. “Everyone knows the Big Mac,” he said. “It’s relatable.”
But across the table, teammate Ryan Foster had a confession.
“I’ve never had a Big Mac in my life,” he said.
Moments later, his first-ever Big Mac was in front of him.
“It’s three buns. It’s dripping with sauce. It looks really good,” Foster said.
Then to the goading of his friends he chomped down. The verdict:
“That was really good,” Foster said. “The sauce really took over in flavor. Can’t beat it.”
Added Alieu, “It’s a hard day. I might get a Big Mac to go.”
In the Mickey D’s on Warren Street in Roxbury, Timeaka Holman, a mother of twin 8-year-olds, said, “It’s great. It’s the best sandwich. The sauce just has that nice tangy, sweet taste. Best sandwich ever.”
Her two pint-sized culinary critics agreed.
“It has double meat,” said her son, Robson McPhail.
“It’s good!” chimed in sister Ria McPhail.
For all the nutritional abuse his creation has taken over the decades, Delligatti lived to nearly 100 while enjoying at least one 540- calorie Big Mac a week for decades, his son, Michael, said.
Jim Delligatti, who never received any royalties, said in 2006 that McDonald’s resisted his innovation at first because its simple lineup of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes was selling well.
McDonald’s has sold billions of Big Macs since then — as many as 550 million a year, or 17 every second. The fast-food giant said yesterday: “Delligatti was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand,” thanking him for “an iconic sandwich enjoyed by many around the world.”