Unlike Coca-Cola, Absolut vodka and Hillary Clinton, the Big Mac burger has not obtained its iconic status because of its packaging. For the two beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a special sauce in between two sesame seed buns, what you munch is what you get. It’s been 40 years since a franchisee of McDonald’s from Pittsburgh, Jim Delligatti, came up with the idea of the jumbo-sized burger — 205 years after the Fourth Earl of Sandwich made the food-between-two breads popular in the Old World.
While McDonald’s of the Golden Arcs fame has been doing business since 1940 when brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened a restaurant, it was the Big Mac that brought about the epochal change in the company’s line of burgers. Big Macs are a menu favourite in most of the 31,000 McDonald’s outlets across the world. But before the Shiv Sena starts tying their laces and proceeding to the nearest McDonald’s, let us remind folks that the Big Mac has been localised in many countries like India (where we have the chicken sandwiched Maharaja Mac) to suit tastes and sensibilities.
But the Big Mac also serves another function. Because of its near ubiquitous nature, the Economist magazine uses it as an index of the quality of living in different countries. But on the flip side, if McDonald’s is a symbol of ‘American imperialism’ — as post-colonial designer victims would love to think — then the Big Mac lies at its ‘evil core’. But the real enemy of the Big Mac is no stubble-faced ideologue: it’s the calorie-watcher. So can the Big Mac handle Big Slim? We wonder.