Late last year, Jim Delligatti’s obituary reasserted his claim to fame as the franchisee that created the Big Mac. His combination of two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun was a hit for McDonald’s, which initially resisted since its own burgers, fries and shakes were selling well. But once Delligatti began putting it in his 48 Pennsylvania stores, corporate couldn’t ignore the numbers.
Now another McDonald’s franchisee has seen success with its own invention — and has built on it. The McDonald’s franchise in the San Francisco Bay area first created Gilroy garlic fries, an homage to the nearby garlic capital of the world. Now, it’s introducing another Bay classic: the snow crab sandwich, currently served in four Bay Area McDonald’s. If it proves successful, it could expand to more than 250 McDonald’s in the area later this year.
The only problem: “Snow crab blended with mayonnaise and diced celery, tomato slices and romaine lettuce on a sourdough bun” doesn’t exactly create a catchy jingle.
Songs aside, McDonald’s regional favorites campaign is nationwide — and it’s a smart one. A burgeoning interest in local and regional specialties is coming to a fast-food restaurant near you. McDonald’s is trying the tactic elsewhere, with franchisees offering a pesto mozzarella melt in Southern California and bratwurst in Wisconsin.
It’s not that much of a stretch from how fast-food chains operate internationally, where corn is offered as a French fry substitute in Hong Kong or kimchi as a quesadilla flavor in Korea. Capitalizing on the foodie craze may just help McDonald’s — and the struggling fast-food sector overall — become relevant again.