What You Don't Know About The Big Mac Museum

If you are passing through southwestern Pennsylvania on either Route 30 or the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Big Mac Museum awaits close by in the township of North Huntingdon, which is not the birthplace of the Big Mac

However, to describe the Big Mac Museum as a museum is a bit generous. As Roadside America describes in their account of their visit, it is a restaurant foremost that memorabilia happens to fill. To treat it as a museum leads you into the difficulty of leaning over customers munching on their Big Macs to peer at whatever is displayed on the wall by their table: "It should be given its own room, and respect, away from screaming broods and surrounded by soundproofed walls – just a few comfortable pews with cup-holders." 

The things displayed also disappoint somewhat. The Big Mac Sauce Gun, business awards, the Big Mac toaster, and, yes, the World's Largest Big Mac all present a sanitized view of the Big Mac and MacDonald's in general. On Tripadvisor, the consensus runs similarly. While the restaurant boasts 3.5 stars after 69 reviews, the reviews focused more on the restaurant end of the location. One four-star review which is emblematic of this mentioned the presence of a large interior playground but said not to expect much of the museum beyond "some old nostalgia signs and trinkets." The truth of the Big Mac Museum, then, is that it is worth visiting if you are already there.

Big pride for Big Mac

Though, as said, Pittsburgh claims to have invented the Big Mac, even to the point of temporarily renaming themselves Big Mac, the Big Mac was actually created an hour's trip south of North Huntingdon in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A corporate spokesperson explained to Atlas Obscura that due to the other's proximity to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, they saw it more fitting to locate the museum there as an additional draw for travelers. 

In a short history of the Big Mac, Jamie Fox writes that the Big Mac's debut in Uniontown was due to McDonald's dragging its feet over Jim Delligatti's innovation, or as he puts it: "The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket." He had managed to build a reasonable fleet of franchises around the Pittsburgh area but struggled with low traffic. So, pulling from his days as a manager at Big Boy, a drive-in chain that featured a double-decker sandwich, he created the beginnings of the Big Mac. 

The higher price gave McDonald's pause but allowed him to do a test run in Uniontown as long as he kept the same buns. Delligatti didn't. The original buns were too small. Still, as the presence of a Big Mac Museum no doubt gives away, McDonald's clearly didn't mind the bigger buns and higher price in the long run.