Saturday, August 25, 2007

An American Icon Of Obesity Turns 40! But Who Cares? It's a Damn Good Burger!

For some fast-food junkies, it's cause for celebration and normally, a 40-year-old sandwich would be something to be avoided. Love them or hate them, the Big Mac has grown from its humble beginnings to become a cultural unifier. The triple-decker burger, which helped breed America's super-size culture and restaurants' ever-expanding jumbo meals, is turning 40.

Cleveland has its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to celebrate the likes of Mick Jagger and the Beatles. Washington has its Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to highlight such milestones as man on the moon. Now the home of "twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheese picklesonionsonasesameseedbun" (click on the play burron to the right to hear the 1975 commercial) is a tourist destination. Only time will tell how many visitors will flock to the McDonald's Big Mac Museum Restaurant, where they can be photographed in front of the world's largest Big Mac (14 feet by 12 feet). Now that's a Whopper!

Millions who flock to McDonald's each year to chow down on a Big Mac. The flavors that come together, it's like heaven in your mouth. The Big Mac was first introduced in 1967 by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald's franchise owner in Uniontown, Pa. A year later, it became a staple of McDonald's menus nationwide. To celebrate the burger's anniversary, Delligatti and his family opened a Big Mac Museum Restaurant this week in North Huntingdon, Pa., full of memorabilia, celebratory exhibits and "the world's largest Big Mac statue."

More people in more 100 countries have given in to Big Mac attacks, according to Oak Brook-based McDonald's Corp. There is only one Big Mac and there will only ever be one Big Mac. I'm sure the folks at MickeyDee's had no idea it would sell 550 million a year in the United States today or be sold in 100 countries. In New York City the burger goes for $3.29, in London, $3.61, in Moscow: $1.78 (heck, they barely can get bread there right?), in Paris it's $4.09 (and the size of a Ritz Cracker) and in Tokyo, where it looks like Sushi, it's only $2.26. The Big Mac has become such a pop-culture phenomenon that it has a place in the hearts (and probably the arteries) of most Americans.

Now here's some great factoids about the big burger that's sold at a rate of 17 per second...

With each Big Mac containing 29g of fat, Americans eat an astonishing 17,582 tons of fat from Big Macs each year. That's roughly the weight of more than 40 fully loaded Boeing 747 passenger jets. Yummy!

There are about 178 sesame seeds on a Big Mac bun. And who counted?

In India, the Maharaja Mac is made with chicken, while in Greece the Greek Mac uses the pitta bread and yoghurt from a traditional "souvlaki" sandwich. Yuck,

The Big Mac is not the biggest burger McDonald's sell. The truly ravenous can order a Mega Mac, made with four patties and an extra slice of cheese - but not in England, where it has been deemed too unhealthy. Like the Brits really care? They drink warm beer!

Of all the McDonald's burgers, the Big Mac is the hardest to prepare but it's a skill that former employees Sharon Stone, Shania Twain and Pink mastered. And I'll still bet you that Paris hilton's never had even one!

The current obesity hype has done little to dent the popularity of Mr Delligatti's creation, despite becoming the focus of much bad press. In recent years the company has attempted to shake off its unhealthy image, introducing low-fat, nutritious options such as salads and fruit alongside the burgers, chips and high-fat drinks for which it is famed. Although these adjustments may have helped the public perception of the company, nothing can ever rival the popularity of the gut-busting Big Mac, which contains a whopping 540 calories and 29g of fat. But compared to the Deluxe Breakfast which contains only 1140 calories and 59 grams of fat, it's no big deal. I'll bet Paula Deen eates them! And by the way, to set the record straight on my favoirte McD's sandwich the Filet-O-Fish, it only contains 360 calories and 16 grams of fat...and if I eat one it's like a colonic for about 2 days. but I still love 'em! By the way, the chick in the photo is Tyra Banks!

The pop culture icon has been maligned on Morgan Spurlock's Academy Award-nominated documentary "Super Size Me" and by other critics. and the Big Mac is sometimes held up as a symbol of why Americans are fat and getting fatter. But who cares? An icon is an icon. Maybe they just need to super-size their museum. Mmmm.