Pennsylvania McDonald’s franchisee who created Big Mac dies

In this Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, photo, a McDonald's Big Mac sandwich is photographed at a McDonald's restaurant in Robinson Township, Pa. McDonald's saw a key sales figure drop in the U.S. again in February 2014, as the world's biggest hamburger chain struggles to beat back competition and adapt to changing eating habits. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, photo, a McDonald's Big Mac sandwich is photographed at a McDonald's restaurant in Robinson Township, Pa. McDonald's saw a key sales figure drop in the U.S. again in February 2014, as the world's biggest hamburger chain struggles to beat back competition and adapt to changing eating habits. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee who created the Big Mac nearly 50 years ago has died. Michael “Jim” Delligatti was 98.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Kerry Ford confirmed that Delligatti died at home surrounded by his family on Monday night.

Delligatti’s franchise was based in Uniontown, about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh, when he invented the chain’s signature burger with two all-beef patties, “special sauce,” lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

Delligatti told The Associated Press in 2006 that Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s resisted the idea at first because its simple lineup of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes were selling well.

But Delligatti wanted to offer a bigger burger and it went over so well it spread to the rest of Delligatti’s 47 stores, then went national in 1968.

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