Pay With Words Vending Machine Debuts At National Spelling Bee


The National Spelling Bee will always make education and vocabulary a major part of any competition. Kids go to these events aiming to spell a plethora of complex words down to each precise letter. They will make friends that can do the same and spend their free-time swatting up on sneaky linguistical conventions that might catch them out. At this year’s finals, however, there was another spelling-related challenge to contend with.

Spelling Bee Finalists Got To Test Out A “Pay With Words” Vending Machine.

The event was sponsored by Hillshire Farm, proud producers of snack foods that they promise are perfect for fuelling kids’ study sessions. To honor that partnership, they created a vending machine with little snack packs of meat, cheese, and sweet treats. But, as this was the National Spelling Bee finals, this wasn’t your typical machine.


Instead of inserting currency, the kids aged between 7 and 15 used a “pay with words” system. The machine would say a word, and the kids would type in the spelling on a keypad. Those that got it right got their tasty reward. Presumably, there was no option to ask the machine to repeat the word or use it in context, and hopefully, the voice was easy to understand.

Does The Pay With Words Vending Machine Have A Bright Future?

Although gimmicky and best suited to this sort of environment, there is some potential in this product. Kids don’t have to waste their allowance while away at events and get easy access to more than candy and chips. With a $50,000 cash prize up for grabs, any nutritious snack to help with studying is more than welcome.

It isn’t clear right now if this was a one-time promotional stunt, or if we can expect to see this sort of machine at the 2023 finals. Still, you have to imagine some schools would be interested in installing one of these alternative vending machines.