a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.
The name Jim Delligatti probably doesn’t ring a bell, does it? He could be any accountant or lawyer in pretty much any place accross the United States. His name is not exactly what we would associate with the word “icon.” But Mr. Delligatti is behind one of the most legendary pieces of American pop culture in history: The Big Mac.
Delligatti came up with the idea in 1967, in his McDonald’s franchise in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and the motivation for it was quite simple: to compete with the very popular Big Boy burger. By the following year, his creation was introduced nationally; the rest, as they say, is history. “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun” became a catch phrase, the Big Mac got its own economic index and now, 50 years later in Buenos Aires, it’s receiving a well deserved homage.
Seven of the top burger places in town are hosting an event called Burger Road, which started yesterday and runs through Saturday, August 11th.
BIGROAD es una movida en Homenaje a la BicMac que está cumpliendo 50 años. Todos van a poder disfrutar de las mejores versiones homenaje en @americanburgerok @thefoodtruckstore @monkeyburgers @chickenbrosba @burgertify @tdnburger y @labirrabar los días 9,10 y 11 de Agosto a un precio de $200 el combo con bebida no alcoholia. Espero verlos a todos y que lo disfruten, esto es para ustedes!! . Pd: El tremendo video es de @s2.productions Que la rompe con el contenido digital.
Alejandro Merchán is the guy behind @theburgertopic, the Instagram account that’s throwing the birthday bash. Like many, many others, he’s pretty much been obsessed with hamburgers since he was a little boy in Colombia. “I’ve always loved burgers, ever since I can recall. In fact one of my earliest memories is of going to eat burgers for the first time with my parents. It stuck with me ever since and all my high school and college friends all remember me as the guy who ate burgers all the time.”
Alejo, as he’s known to his friends, moved to Buenos Aires several years ago, enough to have witnessed the massive hamburger boom that has taken over the city, with restaurants popping up at an unprecedented rate. Working as a community manager, Alejo decided to blend his two passions and take advantage of the zeitgeist by creating The Burger Topic account. “I started to see blogs, YouTube channels, and Facebook pages all burger related and I thought it would be nice be able to transmit how I experience it,” he recalls. “I started to go to every burger place in the city and sooner than later I started to find my audience.”
He’d been trying to find an event to give his account a much-needed boost, so he started doing some research. He stumbled upon the story of good old Mr. Delligatti and came up with the idea of doing an homage to the Big Mac. Alejo got together with several places, some of whom he already knew from having eaten all the burgers on their menus at some moment in time (just in case you’re wondering, Alejo is not in fact 300 lbs, but has the appearance of a perfectly average person).
The seven who agreed to participate were The Food Truck Store, Tierra de Nadie, La Birra Bar, Monkey Burger, Burgertify, Chicken Bros and American Burger, who will all be selling their versions of the Big Mac in a combo with a non-alcoholic beverage for just AR $200.
There are several of these places that have been doing their own regular worship of iconic American burgers in the past. As David Sovilj from Tierra de Nadie explains, his restaurant has been honoring the Big Mac every last Tuesday of every month for the last four years: “We’ve been in this business for a long time, and what we started seeing was that the new restaurants would just talk crap about the big chains like McDonalds and Burger King; we made a conscious decision to go against that because those places were actually very big influences in what we’re doing now. So we started doing homages instead.”
The Food Truck Store has also been doing its own version of the Big Mac for a while now, as well as honoring several other classics. Rodo Cámara, the place’s owner, elaborates: “Every Wednesday we do a different one, and we even have three that have made it to our standard menu: the Shake Shack, The Burgerfy, and, of course, the Emily, which comes from the best burger in New York, served at Pizza Loves Emily.”
There’s very little doubt about the icon status of the Bic Mac. But is it any good? Rodo sure seems to think so: “It’s very, very simple…. But simplicity is sometimes the key to something being delicious. Sometimes just a burger with cheddar is the best thing there is and in this case it also has lettuce, pickles, and that Big Mac sauce that’s just spectacular. What’s not to love?”
Alejo takes the explanation a step further, as only a true burger addict could: “A good burger isn’t necessarily the one that has most things on top. A good burger is about balance. The toppings, the pickle, the lettuce, and the chopped onions never fail, they always generate a good balance with the saltiness of the meat, they add freshness.”
Most places have crafted their tributes around respecting the complete process of making the Big Mac (again, say it with me: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun), but some have added their own tweaks on the classic.
Burgertify, for example, decided to leave out the middle bun that goes between both pieces of meat, also known as The Club; Chicken Bros is doing a chicken version (#obvi), and Tierra de Nadie preferred to roast the chopped onion instead of leaving it raw. But they all share the essence of the birthday boy, the mix of ingredients that have made it what it is to this day.
As David Sovilj puts it: “I think no other burger even comes close to it in terms of icons. Its significance and transcendence is unparalleled. It’s a piece of hamburger history.”