Day By Day

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pennsylvania Food Facts

Pennsylvania has contributed a lot to the national cuisine, from Philadelphia Scrapple [made of boiled hog offal] to Lancaster County Seimagga [a local version of haggis], to "Shoo Fly Pie" and
Funnel Cake. Mmmmmmm!!! I can already feel those heart valves slammin' shut.

But one of the greatest elements of Pennsylvania cuisine -- one that has taken the world by storm over the past forty years -- was the "Big Mac."

The Big Mac was invented forty years ago in Uniontown.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Jim Delligatti took two years to convince McDonald's Corp. that the Big Mac was a good idea but 40 years on he takes pride in having invented one of the world's most widely eaten foods that is getting its own museum.

In 1967, the McDonald's franchisee got permission from the corporate office to put two beef patties on a hamburger bun. A year later, the Big Mac he lobbied so hard for made it onto the menu of every McDonald's restaurant.

"I felt that we needed a big sandwich," the 89-year-old Delligatti told Reuters in an interview. "But you couldn't do anything unless they gave you permission."

To Delligatti's delight, the product was "an immediate success," he said, adding that the recipe has not really changed in the 40 years since he sold the first Big Mac in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

Read it here.

Jim Delligatti, a grateful nation turns its rheumy eyes to you. Not only did he create the first Big Mac, he also dreamed up the "Hotcakes and Sausage" breakfast.

To honor Jim's contributions, pay a visit to the Big Mac Museum, newly constructed in Uniontown, PA. [correction: Irwin, PA]


One of my correspondents writes to tell me that he attended the opening of the Big Mac museum. It is in Irwin, PA, not Uniontown as I had indicated. It is located on Rte. 30 (the historic Lincoln highway) just west of the Irwin turnpike exchange. The opening seems to have been quite a big thing. My correspondent writes:

The gala was quite an event, cocktail attire required with a string quartet inside and a jazz band, Five Guys Named Moe, outside in a large tent. It was somewhat odd to see Champagne and wine being served to ladies in gowns and jewelry at the counter along with hors d' oeuvres consisting of quartered Big Macs and the usual assortment of crab, shrimp, and miniature lamb chops that you normally find at such events. I was really happy to be brought back to earth the following day by the usual assortment of obnoxious people cutting in line and “reserving tables” before they get their food and underpaid staff being stressed to the limit of their capabilities. They seemed to be a lot happier the night before.

"She Who Must Not Be Named" and I attended a similar event at the opening of a Taco Bell in Maryland. Not as elaborate, but the forced cheer of the servers was similarly unsettling.