Food & Nutrition

14 Things You Never Knew About the McDonald’s Big Mac

2018 marks the 50th birthday of McDonald’s most iconic sandwich, so we’re celebrating with these factoids that even McDonald’s enthusiasts might not know.

It’s 50 years old

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - JAN 28TH, 2017 :Big Mac on wooden table with blue background.Jasni/Shutterstock

In August 1968, a new super-sandwich called the Big Mac became available to McDonald’s customers nationwide. It had debuted the year before in a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, McDonald’s location, and the franchise founder, Ray Kroc, was a fan. With his approval, the Big Mac went nationwide, and the rest is history.

It was created for steel workers

LOS ANGELES, USA - MARCH 31: The oldest operating McDonald's restaurant in the world in Downey, Los Angeles, California, USA on March 31, 2013. It opened on August 18, 1953.Allard One/Shutterstock

The mastermind behind the Big Mac was Jim Delligatti, the owner of the Uniontown restaurant that debuted it. In the 1960s, many of his regular customers were workers returning from a long day at the steel mills. They would arrive at McDonald’s ravenously hungry, and Delligatti quickly realized that the simple single-patty cheeseburger wasn’t filling them up. So he started experimenting, putting two patties on one burger and adding pickles and onions as well.

“Special Sauce” didn’t get that nickname until 1974

sauce dipShebeko/Shutterstock

In original Big Mac ads from 1968, the flavorful concoction was advertised as “secret sauce.” It wouldn’t be called by the alliterative name we know today until 1974, when the historically catchy “Two all-beef patties, special sauce…” jingle debuted. Despite the name change, however, the recipe remained a secret! 

The Special Sauce has had a few different iterations

Minsk, Belarus, May 6, 2018: Big Mac hamburger menu in McDonald's restaurant.8th.creator/Shutterstock

In the first few years of the Big Mac’s burger life, McDonald’s experimented with two different versions of the sauce. Eventually, they realized that both recipes were performing well and ended up combining elements of both of them to make an entirely new recipe. McDonald’s called this sauce “Big Mac Sauce ’72.’” It wasn’t until 1991 that that classic recipe underwent any changes. A new version of the recipe debuted in that year and remained until the early 21st century. But in 2004, Fred Turner, a former McDonald’s CEO and onetime friend of Ray Kroc himself, decided that he wanted the original recipe reinstated.

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