OTD: 50,000 ‘MacCoins’ issued Canada, more than six million worldwide

On today’s date in 2018, the “MacCoin” made its debut in Canada and more than 50 other countries around the world.

There were 50,000 coins issued in Canada – and more than six million around the world – to commemorate 50 years of the Big Mac. The coins were redeemable for one free Big Mac at participating McDonald’s restaurants through 2018.

“The Big Mac is a cultural icon and what better way to celebrate its continuing status than to issue a commemorative coin,” said Henry Nienhuis, then president of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association, in 2018.

“The many designs of the MacCoin reflect the incredible international network that comprises the McDonald’s global system. We all know what the Big Mac is worth to us, but giving it its own limited mintage official celebratory coin expands that worth giving us a collectible keepsake as well.”

There are five unique designs, each representing a decade of the Big Mac. The coins feature elements from different times in history, giving a nod to art, music and pop culture on the reverse while the common obverse celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac.

Each ‘MacCoin’ highlights a different decade, from the 1970s through the 2010s.

The coins highlight:

  • the 1970s, showcasing the decade’s flower power;
  • the 1980s, alluding to pop art;
  • the 1990s, defined with bold, abstract shapes;
  • the early 2000s specifically focusing on the technology that was at the forefront of the turn of the century; and
  • the 2010s, calling attention to the evolution of communication.

The seven languages featured on the obverse of the MacCoin represent many of the participating countries. They include Arabic, English, Indonesian, Mandarin, Portuguese, French and Spanish.

MacCoins were not distributed with purchases in Canadian restaurants; however, Canadians could receive a limited-edition coin by entering the “#BigMac50” contest on Twitter.

More than 6.2 million MacCoins were distributed worldwide.

According to the McDonald’s website, the coins “may not be auctioned, sold, or duplicated in any way.”

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac with the MacCoin and the family members of the late inventor, Jim Delligatti, on July 26, 2018.


The MacCoin drew inspiration from the Big Mac Index, which was established by The Economist in 1986 as a measure of global purchasing power.

“It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries,” reads a story published in the London, England-based magazine this July.

This theory about a currency’s PPP was first developed in the 1920s by the Swedish economist Gustav Kassel.

After 50 years, the Big Mac continues to be one of Canada’s favourite menu items. Sales of the Big Mac continue to increase every year according to the company.

“As one of the most well-known and iconic McDonald’s menu items – and business driver – around the globe and in Canada, the Big Mac deserves the celebration that the coin evokes,” said Jeff McLean, chief financial officer of McDonald’s Canada. “The fact that in 50 years, the Big Mac has become so universally recognized it’s used to measure the purchasing power of international currencies is pretty remarkable.”

In August 2018, 50,000 coins were issued in Canada, plus another six million worldwide, to commemorate 50 years of the Big Mac. The coins were redeemable for one free Big Mac at participating McDonald’s restaurants through 2018.

The Big Mac was invented in Uniontown, Pa., in 1967 by Jim Delligatti, one of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc’s earliest franchisees. It was introduced on the national menu in the U.S. in 1968.

That year, Canada became the first country outside the U.S. to offer the Big Mac to its guests.

The sandwich originally sold for 45 cents.

“When my great-grandfather Jim Delligatti invented the Big Mac at his grill in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, he just wanted to make his local customers happy,” said Nick Delligatti, fourth-generation McDonald’s owner-operator.

“Aug. 2 would have been my great-grandfather’s 100th birthday, and I believe he would be very proud knowing his humble sandwich has made such a lasting impression that people all around the world can enjoy it wherever they find a McDonald’s.”

The Big Mac is now sold in more than 100 countries around the world.

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