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The man who saved McDonald's

The franchise-owner from Uniontown Pennsylvania put the stacked treat on sale at one of his restaurants in 1968.

McDonald’s initially did not approve of deviating from its strict formula of simple hamburgers, cheeseburgers and milkshakes.

But the creation of a two-patty burger with lettuce, cheese, gherkins, onions and “special sauce” proved an instant hit, and was rolled out to his other 47 outlets across the US.

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

He opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in 1957 and went on to spread the brand across Pennsylvania and beyond.

His son revealed that Delligatti ate at least one 540 calorie Big Mac every week, according to CBS.

In 1970, he invented the Egg McMuffin which paved the way for the breakfast menu which started two years later.

Delligatti is said to have created the Hotcakes and Sausage breakfast meal to feed the state’s steelworkers at the end of their night shift.

“Jim was a legendary franchisee within McDonald’s system who made a lasting impression on our brand,” McDonald’s said in a statement announcing his passing.

“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.”

The Big Mac has become one of the defining symbols of McDonalds and the fast food business.

In 2007, Delligatti opened the Big Mac Museum in Pennsylvania, with financial help from McDonalds Corp, which included a bust of the burger’s inventor.

But the legendary franchise owner insists he didn’t get a lucrative slice of Big Mac sales.

Speaking with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, he said: “Everybody thinks I did. But no way. All I got was a plaque.”

After studying at Michigan State University, the innovative businessman became one of McDonald’s original franchisees in the 1950s.

The fast food icon has left behind his two sons and his loving wife Ellie – as well as five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

McDonald’s recently teamed up teamed up with Canadian airline WestJet to offer air passengers their goods at 50,000ft.

But the Big Mac and fellow fast foot staples won’t be on offer — with attendants instead dishing out the brand’s McCafe range of coffee and pastries.

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