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Creator of iconic burger and one of McDonald's first franchisees Michael Delligatti has died

Michael Delligatti

The Golden Arches took a hit today with the passing of the creator of McDonald's most iconic burger - the Big Mac.

Michael Delligatti, who was known as "Jim," died Monday night in Pittsburgh at the age of 98, according to a report.

As one of McDonald's first franchisees, Delligatti made an indelible impact on American cuisine with the creation of the Big Mac burger in 1967 at his Uniontown, Pennsylvania restaurant.

By combining two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions, as well as a "secret sauce," he created a recipe that is still used today for the Big Mac sandwich, which is served in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Delligatti also played an integral role in the development of McDonald's breakfast menu, by creating the hotcakes and sausage meal to feel steel workers at the end of their overnight shifts, according to an obituary written by his family that was provided by McDonald's.

He opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in 1957 and went on to operate 47 additional locations in Pennsylvania.

"Jim was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand," McDonald's said in a statement on Delligatti's death. "We will remember Jim as an insightful franchisee, a knowledgeable businessman, and an honorable gentleman who left a legacy of four generations of family members running great restaurants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina."