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Betel Nut Beauties

The term Betel nut beauty (also betel nut gir) refers to a common sight along roadsides in Taiwan: a young woman selling betel nuts and cigarettes from a brightly lit glass enclosure while wearing revealing clothing. Though betel nuts are chewed in many regions of the Asia-Pacific, the betel nut beauty phenomenon is distinctly Taiwanese.

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The original betel nut beauties were the "Shuangdong Girls" who, in the 1960s, brought glamour to the opening of the Shuangdong Betel Nut Stand in Guoxing Township, Nantou County (Huang Wan-tran, Taipei Times, 2007 March). The success of the marketing strategy led competitors to follow suit, and by the end of the century betel nut beauties and their neon-topped kiosks were a trademark feature of Taiwan's cities and countryside. The kiosks appear in urban, suburban and rural settings alike. They are most characteristically encountered along major highways where truck drivers--famously enthusiastic consumers of betel nuts--can easily find them.

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