This weekend, we decided to head out for a kind-of-quirky Pittsburgh Achievement. Pittsburgh is home to a lot of inventions: the polio vaccine, Mr. Yuk, the banana split, and the word jagoff, just to name a few. But while you’re likely familiar with all those, you may not know that McDonald’s most famous sandwich, the Big Mac, was invented in the Pittsburgh region. The first-ever Big Mac was made at a McDonald’s in the North Hills on McKnight Road, but Uniontown is considered to be the birthplace of the Big Mac, as it was the location where the sandwich was first sold to the public.
So you can see why it makes perfect sense to have the official Big Mac Museum in North Huntingdon. (For those of you non-Yinzers who read this blog, North Huntingdon is 36.7 miles away from Uniontown and 35.9 miles away from McKnight Road.)
Odd location choices aside, we decided to check out the Big Mac Museum this year and see what it had to offer. Housed in a rather large McDonald’s restaurant on Route 30, the Big Mac Museum is full of all sorts of neat memorabilia for both the sandwich itself and McDonald’s in general.
There are a few timelines around the dining room that give you the history of the Big Mac. The Big Mac was first created in 1967 and served to the world in 1968 by a Pittsburgher named Jim Delligatti.
special sauce lettuce cheese pickle onion and a sesame seed bun???
I discovered this all on my own, when I had my very first Big Mac!! (Full disclosure: I shared it with Michael, because a Big Mac is 550 calories. And that seems like a lot, but it’s only 40 more calories than a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese. And a Big Mac has lettuce, so it’s gotta be better for you!)
Since you’re wondering, I actually thought the Big Mac was pretty good. The lettuce was rather fall-apart-y, but it tasted good! In N Out Burger is still my favorite fast food burger place, but the Big Mac was a lot better than I was expecting!
We also learned that our former mayor, Sophie Masloff, dedicated September 25, 1992 to be McDonald’s Corporation Day, and apparently renamed Pittsburgh as Big Mac, USA for a day. (The weeks following September 25, 1992 were probably kind of awkward if you chose that day to have your checks and address labels made.)
However, my favorite part of the Big Mac Museum was the tribute to Mac Tonight. Mac Tonight is a vaguely-creepy dude with a head shaped like a crescent moon who sang a lot of jingles for McDonald’s in the late 80s. While I spent the late 80s moderately terrified and glued to my TV screen each time one of these commercials came on, it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized the reason I was so entranced by this piano-playing, sunglass-wearing lunar phenomenon was that he was played by none other than my favorite oddball actor of all time, Doug Jones.
In the end, our trip to the Big Mac Museum was pretty fun. It’s a neat piece of Pittsburgh history that’s accessible to people of all ages. You can have lunch and relive commercials from your childhood. You can take all sorts of fun pictures (as long as you don’t mind leaning over people who actually live in North Huntingdon and are there for a meal and not the Real Big Mac Experience). And of course, you can cross something off your ‘random Roadside America stops’ list.
And you’ve got plenty of time to make your trip: the Big Mac Museum is open until midnight Monday through Friday, Saturdays until 1am, and Sundays until 11.