In light of the Scripps' National Spelling Bee, we decided to put our spelling skills to the test on some of those tricky food words that we all know and love to use, but aren't always sure how to spell 'em out. Between sneaky double letters and silent consonants, there are plenty of food-related terms that will trip you up the minute you decide you wanna sound fancy. Maybe for some of these, we're better off just eating them...
Spelling Bee
Credit: Getty Images; Credit: Bloomberg/Contributor

Spelling is hard, and there is nothing that can shatter your confidence more than watching the National Spelling Bee and realizing that there is a 5-year-old out there who could school you on silent vowels and double consonants just about any day of the week. Seriously, what in the world are these parents feeding their kids for breakfast that’s giving them such enormous brain power?

In honor of the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee, we took an informal poll around the office of food words that still manage to trip us up. Every. Single. Time. Last night, Ananya Vinay clinched the victory on the word “marocain,” meaning "a type of dress fabric of ribbed crepe,” (obviously). Her post-Bee words of wisdom for how she achieved this impressive title? “I just focused on my word and tried to spell it right.” Easier said than done.

From those cumbersome French words, to the multi-syllable words that have a confusing mixture of single and double consonants, being able to come across like a competent food speller is so much harder than one might think (with the exception of Ananya). We tried to channel our inner Ananya by focusing on the word and trying our best, but even with all our concentration, we still can’t promise we would be able to nail down these tricksters without spellcheck. If you can get through this list in a breeze, then congratulations my friend, and we’ll see you at next year’s Bee.

Hors D'oeuvre

Everybody remembers the first time they saw this word actually spelled out. While “awdervs” is certainly a valiant effort, you’re really missing the mark on this one.


“I” before “e,” except after “c,” but what about “I” before “u.” And is it one “T” or two? Screw it, it’s ham. Let’s just call it ham. H-A-M. HAM.


Newsflash, you’ve been pronouncing your morning caffeine wrong all along. There’s no “x,” you heathens. Now, stop calling it “EXpresso,” okay?!

Grilled Watermelon Daiquiri
Credit: Greg Dupree; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas


How did that first “I” sneak in there?? Have we been pronouncing it wrong all along? All this confusion is exhausting—so much so that it calls for a...daiquiri.

Crème Fraîche

Jesus, take the wheel on this one. What do those accents even denote linguistically? Language of origin? Part of speech? Culinary Application? We’re all lost (in the sauce).


Damn you, double letters!! But there’s only one “n.” Okay, I think we got it. But how does one spell… frapaccino? frappucino? Frapucinno? GOOD GRIEF.

Caesar Salad

That Julius was clearly quite the speller. How’d he manage? Sezar? Cesar? You know what, I’ll think I’ll just do the Cobb salad instead.


Or is it omelette? Omelet? I just want to fold in a variety of vegetables and meats into my morning eggs. I did not ask for this burden.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane