Landing this week’s ‘Big’ Life features

CHARLES TOWN – You’ll find on this week’s Life front on B1 a pair of neat stories related to the McDonald’s Big Mac. I’d enjoy sharing some background into how these features came to be part of the Spirit.

With West Virginia’s 150th birthday coming up this month, it seems like a great time to highlight the state’s little-known connection to former Fairmont resident Jim Delligatti, who in the late 1960s came up with the iconic double-decker sandwich.

To nail down the story for the Spirit, we got in touch with Greg Stone, a former reporter for The Charleston Gazette who works occasionally as a freelance writer. He also holds a full-time gig in media relations with the office of state Treasurer John Perdue.

We knew Stone had interviewed Delligatti for a north-central West Virginia publication a few years back during the hubbub over the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Big Mac, and were pleased when Stone agreed to dig through his files and send along a version of his tale for us to use.

From there, our Life Editor Christine Miller Ford – who’d studied journalism with Stone at Marshall University and then worked with him at the Gazette – expanded on Stone’s interview with Delligatti, adding in additional background on McDonald’s and a bit about the cultural impact of the Big Mac.

And then Ford’s oldest daughter – Victoria, a freshman at Jefferson High – suggested we sink our teeth into a related feature; her science teacher, David Wright, had a little-known Big Mac talent.

Wright was willing to share with the Spirit his unique Big Mac ability, but with a caveat. Wright wanted us to include a warning to readers, to ensure that no one will try to replicate his trick and thus put their health in jeopardy.

For us at the Spirit, capturing Wright’s eating feat made for an unusual assignment. We gathered in the late afternoon at the Ranson McDonald’s, with our group taking up most of the front of the restaurant.

Besides the students and teachers who came out to watch Wright demonstrate his knack for devouring a Big Mac whole, the restaurant also held a larger-than-normal Spirit team, including a writer and two photographers.

Jocelyn Robinson trained her camera on Wright as he attacked the Mac and I took on the challenge of capturing the reactions of those watching Wright cram the sandwich in his mouth and then chew, chew, chew.

Afterward, members of the eatery’s management team and other workers came by to congratulate Wright and to vow to pass along the photos of the single-bite takedown to McDonald’s higher ups.

Said one: “This is so cool! It’s your 15 minutes of fame!”

– Robert Snyder


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