Infographic:: Double stack innovation - Lessons for the creator of the Big Mac
LESSONS FROM THE CREATOR
OF THE BIG MAC
LESSONS FROM THE CREATOR
OF THE BIG MAC
It’s a product that has defined the company that sells it; the McDonalds Big Mac, a
sandwich of two patties (to give them their proper name), lettuce, cheese, pickles,
onions and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.
A fast-food so influential that The Economist created a Big Mac Index, an indication
that a given currency is overvalued or undervalued based on the cost of a Big Mac in
one country relative to another.
Yet the iconic double-stacked burger wasn’t invented, developed or even initially believed in by
It was the brainchild of Jim Delligatti, a McDonalds franchise owner in Uniontown, near Pittsburgh, PA.
Fuelled by the competition
From lowest performing to best-selling
Putting your lightbulb bulb in the right place
Lessons from the burger-meister
Concerned that he was losing trade to
the local BurgerKing Whopper
burgers, Delligatti devised his own
double-patty hamburger and put the
idea to company executives.
The response wasn’t positive, with
company executives worried that the
45 cents price tag was too high
compared with the standard
hamburger at just 18 cents, and would
drive customers away.
However, Delligatti persisted, and
eventually got permission to trial the
new hamburger in his Uniontown
stores, but only using McDonalds
Delligatti promptly ignored the
restriction, sourcing a bigger bun that
was easy to split into three from a
local baker, and first selling his new
creation to hungry customers on 22
The response was immediate, as Delligatti explained in a 1993 interview:
“At one time we were the lowest-volume store of any large city. A few years after the Big Mac
introduction, we became the largest — a distinction we held for a couple of years.”
“It wasn’t like discovering the light bulb. The bulb was already
there. All I did was screw it in the socket.” **
Delligatti also developed a hot breakfast for local
steelworkers as they came home from the night shift in the
local mills, and this too became part of the national menu as
the Hotcakes and Sausage Meal.
Soon, the Big Mac was
on the McDonalds
national menu, where it
has remained ever since.
Delgatti died in November 2016 at the grand old age of 98, and was modest about his major innovation, saying:
It didn’t make him rich either; he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2007 that:
“All I got was a plaque”!
So, in the spirit of self-help gurus who have drawn lessons from the
flight of geese et al, what can we learn as innovation managers
from the man who first flipped a Big Mac?
Delligatti had worked for rival firm Big Boy and
saw first-hand how successful their burger with
special sauce was.
1. Know your competition.
Delligatti developed the Big Mac because he saw his customers
eating them elsewhere.
Had Delligatti listened to the McDonalds executives, his burger
would have slipped into obscurity.
2. Develop the product your customers want.
3. Use the best materials for the job.
The Big Mac name was created by Esther
Glickstein Rose, a young advertising
secretary at McDonalds corporate HQ in
Illinois, Two previous names, Aristocrat
and Blue Ribbon Burger, failed to attract
4. Find the right name.
It took almost a year for the Big Mac to be rolled out nationally.
Now, over 550 million Big Macs are sold every year in the US alone.
5. Have faith in your invention.
McDonalds didn’t have the right bun
for the job, so Delligatti outsourced it.
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