What was the Big Mac first called?

The Big Mac is one of McDonald’s most iconic burgers. With its signature triple-decker bun, special sauce, and iconic taste, it has become a staple of American fast food culture. But before it was known worldwide as the Big Mac, McDonald’s famous burger went by another name.

The Original Big Mac Sandwich

The Big Mac was created by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchise owner in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. In 1967, Delligatti wanted to create a larger burger to compete with the popular double burgers offered by his competitors.

After developing the recipe, Delligatti took his creation to the McDonald’s corporate office to get it approved for his menus. Originally, McDonald’s was skeptical about the new burger, thinking it would be too big and expensive for customers. However, they eventually agreed to test it at Delligatti’s locations in Uniontown and nearby Latrobe.

The Arnold Burger

When the triple-decker burger was first introduced in 1967 at Delligatti’s restaurants, it was not called the Big Mac. Delligatti had named his creation the Arnold Burger, after a nickname used by his advertising manager Arnold Muller.

The Arnold Burger featured the same ingredients as the modern Big Mac – two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a triple-decker sesame seed bun. The name was a reference to Arnold himself and also evoked images of a “big stack” burger loaded with toppings.

Customer Confusion Over the Arnold Burger Name

While the Arnold Burger was selling well at Delligatti’s locations, the name was causing some confusion among customers. At the time, Arnold bread company commercials were popular on TV and radio. Because of this, people thought the Arnold Burger was made with Arnold bread.

Delligatti started getting complaints from customers who expected the burger to be on Arnold bread when it was actually served on a homemade triple-decker bun. McDonald’s also noted that the Arnold Burger name made it sound like one of their standard menu items, when it was considerably bigger.

The Birth of the Big Mac Name

To find a better name for his creation, Delligatti organized a contest among his franchise employees. The goal was to re-name the Arnold Burger something that would better highlight the sandwich’s large size and ingredients.

In 1968, the winner was announced as Esther Glickstein Rose, an office secretary who worked for Delligatti. Rose suggested naming the burger the Big Mac, communicating its signature triple-decker construction in a catchy and memorable way.

McDonald’s approved the new Big Mac name, and Delligatti began using it at his locations. The name stuck immediately and started spreading as McDonald’s expanded availability of the burger nationwide. Within a year, the Big Mac was being sold throughout the country.

How the Big Mac Got its Name

While Esther Glickstein Rose came up with the Big Mac name, the inspiration apparently came from another source. According to Delligatti, Rose said the name came to her after hearing a McDonald’s commercial earlier that day.

The commercial used the jingle “Buy a bag, buy a box, buy the whole chicken and put it in your Mac.” Mac was shorthand for macaroni at the time, used in Hamburger Helper and similar products.

Hearing “Mac” in the commercial sparked the connection for the triple-decker burger name. While Mac already meant macaroni for customers, Big Mac would be an original term associating the burger’s size and construction.

The Success of the Big Mac Name

Changing the name from Arnold Burger to Big Mac proved to be a smart move. The Big Mac name help the triple-decker burger become McDonald’s most famous and iconic menu item over the years.

Immediate Customer Recognition

Unlike the confusion over the Arnold Burger, the Big Mac name immediately helped customers recognize that this was a larger burger made with triple-decker buns. Using “Big” in the name conveyed the sandwich’s loaded construction in a way “Arnold” did not.

Memorable and Catchy Branding

The alliterative Big Mac name is also more unique and catchy, making it easier to remember for customers. Arnold Burger sounds like a standard burger name, while Big Mac captures specific branding about the sandwich.

Rise to Pop Culture Staple

As the Big Mac grew in popularity across McDonald’s restaurants, its branding took hold in pop culture through advertising, movies, music, and more. Elevating it to a famous McDonald’s icon. The name’s simplicity and catchiness facilitated the burger’s rise to fame.

Becoming a McDonald’s Legend

Today, the Big Mac is McDonald’s signature burger, one of its most popular menu items, and a consistent best-seller. It has become a legend that defines the McDonald’s brand and experience. The clever and memorable Big Mac name has played a key role in that success over the past 50+ years.

The Big Mac Name Spreads Nationwide

Once the re-named burger started selling well at Delligatti’s Pittsburgh restaurants in 1968, McDonald’s began expanding availability nationwide. Here is a look at how the Big Mac was rolled out across America:

1968: Introduced Regionally

Following the name switch, McDonald’s first expanded the Big Mac to restaurants in the Pittsburgh and Columbus regions. This allowed them to perfect preparation and serving procedures regionally.

1969: Expanded Across Country

In 1968, McDonald’s featured the Big Mac in their national advertising campaigns. The following year, it began being added to menus of restaurants across the country.

1971: The Big Mac is Nationwide

Just three years after its restaurant debut, the Big Mac was available at every McDonald’s location across the United States. It became a permanent staple of the national menu.

The Big Mac’s Growth to Global Icon

Over the following decades, international growth further cemented the Big Mac’s status:

1975 – Canada

The Big Mac expands beyond the U.S., being added to McDonald’s menus in Canada.

1977 – Austria and New Zealand

Following Canada, the Big Mac is rolled out to McDonald’s branches in Austria and New Zealand.

1978 – Germany

McDonald’s starts serving the signature burger in Germany.

1979 – UK

The Big Mac arrives in the United Kingdom. By 1983 it was available Australia-wide.

1988 – Moscow

A McDonald’s opens in Moscow, Russia – the first in the Soviet Union. It notably serves the iconic Big Mac.

Today – Worldwide

Now, the Big Mac is featured at McDonald’s restaurants in over 100 countries globally. It is sold under localized names in some regions, like Le Big Mac in France.

The Story Behind the Big Mac Secret Sauce

A key part of what makes the Big Mac tastes special is its secret sauce. Here is background on the original recipe:

Secret Sauce Ingredients

The exact ingredients in the Big Mac sauce still remain a secret today. It is described by McDonald’s as a “sweet, tangy” thousand island style dressing. Analysis suggests it contains mayonnaise, sweeteners, vinegar, garlic, onion, and spices.

Created by Jim Delligatti

McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc gets credit for suggesting a sauce to help keep the burger’s ingredients together. However, it was Jim Delligatti who developed the actual special sauce recipe used on the Big Mac today.

Thousand Island Inspiration

When making the sauce, Delligatti reportedly drew inspiration from popular thousand island dressing. He tweaked the recipe to better complement the Big Mac’s flavours.

Secret Recipe

To maintain its uniqueness, McDonald’s has kept the exact ingredients and ratios of the Big Mac sauce a secret since its inception. Only a few executives know the full recipe.

Flavor Variations

There are slight variations in the sauce’s regional flavors. For example, versions sold in Europe omit citric acid and use different sweeteners. But the original recipe remains largely unchanged from Delligatti’s 1967 creation.

The Big Mac’s Initial Price and Size

When the triple-decker burger was first sold as the Big Mac in 1968, it had the following original price and specs:

45 Cents

The introductory price for a Big Mac was $0.45 – about $3.50 in 2023 dollars. This was more than double the $0.15 hamburgers McDonald’s offered at the time.

4 Inches Tall

The stacked layers resulted in the burger having an impressive height of about 4 inches. It was noticeably bigger than McDonald’s regular hamburgers.

1/6 lb Meat Patties

It contained two 1/6 pound (about 2.67 ounces) beef patties, resulting in a 1/3 pound burger. This gave it nearly triple the meat of a standard McDonald’s burger.

Triple-Decker Bun

The signature baked bun had a third larger piece of bread in the middle to support the stacked patties and toppings.

Over 700 Calories

The original Big Mac contained about 730 calories. The condiments and toppings made the burger heftier than a typical hamburger.

Specification Original Big Mac (1968)
Price $0.45
Height About 4 inches
Patties Two 1/6 lb patties
Bun Triple-decker
Calories About 730 calories

The Slogan “Two all-beef patties, special sauce…”

McDonald’s advertising in the 1970s and 80s made the Big Mac famous with the slogan:

“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”

Here’s background on this memorable mantra:

Created in 1974

McDonald’s franchisee Bob Wian created the legendary jingle in 1974 for radio and TV spots advertising the Big Mac.

Highlighted Ingredients

It broke down in detail all the ingredients between the triple-decker buns. This let customers know everything that made the Big Mac unique.

Used until 2006

For over three decades, McDonald’s used the “two all-beef patties” slogan in commercials across the country. It became ingrained in popular culture.

“Bun-Bun-Bun” Song

A version made famous by a 1976 TV ad added “bun-bun-bun” to highlight the triple-decker construction. A catchy jingle kids and adults alike could remember.

Remains Iconic

The famous phrase permanently defined the Big Mac in customers’ minds. It still appears in McDonald’s marketing materials and establishments today.

Nutritional Content of the Big Mac

The Big Mac was revolutionary in the late 1960s for its large size and indulgent toppings. Here is a look at its original nutrition information:

730 Calories

With two beef patties plus cheese, sauce, and a triple-decker bun, the original Big Mac delivered a hearty 730 calories.

37 Grams Fat

The burger derived the majority of its calories from fat, with 37 grams (57% daily value). The patties and cheese provided most of the saturated fat content.

47 Grams Carbs

It also contained a sizable amount of carbohydrates at 47 grams. The sugar and refined flour in the bun contributed significant carbs.

25 Grams Protein

The two patties accounted for the 25 grams of filling protein in the original Big Mac recipe. The meat gave it more protein than a typical burger.

880 mg Sodium

A considerable dose of sodium (37% DV) came from the beef patties, cheese, and condiments totaling 880 milligrams.

Nutrient Amount (1968)
Calories 730
Fat 37 g
Carbs 47 g
Protein 25 g
Sodium 880 mg

The Big Mac Today

While still remaining a calorie-dense, iconic treat, the modern Big Mac has evolved somewhat over time:

Smaller Meat Patties

The original 1/6 lb patties are now 1.6 oz. each. McDonald’s reduced the amount of beef to cut costs as prices rose.

Fewer Calories

Updates like less meat, refined sauces, and changed baking reduced the calories to 540 in a modern Big Mac.

Price Increased

The famous burger now costs around $5.50 on average based on location – over 10 times more than the original 45 cent price.

Global Variations

Regionally, the Big Mac has variations like a shrimp burger in Asia, all-chicken sandwich in India, or veggie option in the UK.

Limited Time Offers

Special edition Big Macs like the Grand Mac and Mac Jr. have appeared for limited times as special menu items.

The Big Mac Museum

Given its worldwide popularity and iconic status, it’s fitting the Big Mac is memorialized in a dedicated museum in Pennsylvania. Details:

Location in Uniontown, PA

The Big Mac Museum Restaurant is located in Uniontown, PA – the same city where franchise owner Jim Delligatti invented the Big Mac in 1967.

Opened in 2007

McDonald’s opened the Big Mac Museum restaurant on August 31, 2007 to celebrate the burger’s 40th anniversary.

Big Mac Memorabilia

The museum displays archival photos, memorabilia, packaging, and equipment that tell the story of the Big Mac’s invention and success.

Giant 14-ft Big Mac

The highlight is a huge 14 foot tall fiberglass statue of the Big Mac sandwich that visitors can see outside and inside the restaurant.

Interactive Exhibits

Visitors can view multimedia presentations, see how ingredients are prepared, and explore decorative tributes to every ingredient in an engaging, informative environment.

Big Mac: Global Brand Ambassador

Since its rise from humble beginnings as the Arnold Burger created by a small town McDonald’s owner, the Big Mac has become a giant global icon representing American fast food. Some keys to its worldwide appeal:

Symbol of America Abroad

Being McDonald’s signature burger, the Big Mac is seen by many countries as the quintessential American food, introducing people overseas to classic American burgers.

McDonald’s Flagship

It is the sandwich most associated with McDonald’s ubiquitous global brand. For those unfamiliar with American culture, the Big Mac embodies what McDonald’s represents.


While staying true to its roots, McDonald’s tweaks the Big Mac’s ingredients and preparation to align with local tastes in different regions worldwide. This adaptability helps it cross cultures.


No matter where someone orders a Big Mac, they know what the sandwich represents and can expect a similar recognizable taste. This consistency is comforting amid cultural differences.

Advertising Icon

The Big Mac’s kitschy yet memorable advertising slogans and jingles further embedded its imagery as a pop culture icon since the 1970s.


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