Fast Food Signature Burgers 8
Look at that. How can you top such triple-tiered extravagance?

Hollis Johnson

Nothing says summer like a good burger.

Grilled in the backyard, smokey and fresh? Sure, delicious.

And yet, two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame-seed bun from McDonald’s holds its own cachet.

The Big Mac is truly America’s burger. There’s even a museum dedicated to it in Pennsylvania.

I recently matched the signature burgers at Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s against one another in an unwavering, definitive, and entirely unscientific ranking.

Lo and behold, after the sesame seeds had settled, the glorious Big Mac came out on top.

It caught me by surprise to learn that only one in five millennials had even tried a Big Mac. That’s according to a recent memo written by a McDonald’s franchisee, cited by The Wall Street Journal.

According to The Journal, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said the company was beginning to rethink “legacy beliefs” as it looks to revitalize its stagnant share of the burger market.

Rethinking legacy beliefs? Is our most savory national treasure in danger of being phased out?

McDonald's Big Mac 6
Hollis Johnson

The Aristocrat

The Big Mac was once just a twinkle in the eye of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area McDonald’s franchisee named Jim Delligatti. After seeing the success of the Filet-O-Fish — invented by a franchisee in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1962 — Delligatti decided to cook up his own new item. On a warm summer night in 1967 in the kitchen of a suburban Ross Township McDonald’s some 6 miles outside Pittsburgh, the Big Mac was born.

It was originally called “The Aristocrat” — a decidedly un-American name. McDonald’s rejected the idea of hereditary peerage and renamed it the Big Mac, introducing it nationally one year later. It sold for 49 cents.

The sauce reportedly took Delligatti two years to perfect. The mixture, long kept secret, is now pretty easy to find on the internet. Pickle relish, paprika, and vinegar are all part of the equation; that golden orange savory velvet is what ties the whole sandwich together. It’s so revered that a McDonald’s-branded 25-ounce bottle of it sold recently for nearly $95,000 at auction.

The triple-bun approach is key to enjoying the burger and its myriad flavors. The middle-bun piece — called the “club” — separates the two beef patties, avoiding the overwhelming sensation of “beef overload” so often experienced with double-patty burgers.

Of course, plenty of burgers have diced white onions, shredded lettuce, neon yellow cheese, and average frozen patties. But when it comes to the Big Mac, the whole is greater than…