The Culture of Betelnut in Taiwan is a long one. Betelnut is Taiwan’s second largest agricultural crop. This coconut-like tree produces a seed that when chewed is similar to a chewing tobacco like Skoals or Redman. You can achieve a gentle like buzz when chewing it. This legal stimulant is basically Taiwan’s version of chewing tobacco. Also nicknamed “Taiwan Chewing Gum”. The Culture of Betelnut in Taiwan has been on the decline for years as it has shown to cause oral cancer and the groves of trees in the mountains make the land susceptible to landslides.
Betelnut Name Origin
It derives from a type of native Taiwan fan palm tree. This palm tree is also found in abundance in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The first time you try it may possibly be your last as it is a very strong, uncomfortably warm feeling.
It is usually sold with a cut down the middle, mixed with lime cultrate that is scrapped from seashells, and then the nut is wrapped in a leaf. .Take great care not to swallow the juice, but ensure to spit it out. It can stain the teeth and fingernails a nasty dark, reddish-brown color. Long-term use can lead to oral cancer.
What separates Taiwan from other nearby countries that also grow Betelnut, is their unique marketing technique: The Betelnut Girl. The traditional name in Chinese is: bin lang xishi. The Taiwan girl who is at times dressed in little more than a skimpy string bikini. These sexy, beautiful, young Taiwanese women sit in telephone booth type ( But a little larger) clear glass booths often covered by police strobes and flashing neon lights.,These booths are scattered all along the main throughout fares. These Taiwan show girl types are working hard selling small packages of Betelnut to truck drivers and passers-by. These Taiwan girls regularly put up with drunken customers and economic circumstances out of their control and understanding. Sometimes simulating a Taiwan show girl in a roadside strip show, this technique is familiar to most that travel Taiwan. It’s well worth a gander and a quick study while traveling in Taiwan for its pure originality and attraction.
Decline of Betelnut Girls as Marketing
On the other hand, many politicians other ‘reformers’ have recently decided to undertake campaigns to crack down on the trend and explosion of Betelnut Girls island-wide. They claim the girls are bad for the country’s image and want to discourage chewers for constantly spitting the reddish brown liquid, resembling blood on the city streets. Police have stepped up harassing and arresting these Taiwan girls for indecent exposure or in a few cases, even being charged with prostitution. Powerful lobbyists of betelnut growers & the voice of the addicted chewers have made it harder for lawmakers to be able to outlaw the practice entirely. New laws in Taipei City in 2007 have made it virtually impossible for Betelnut girls to pedal the product anymore, However It’s still available for sale in a different environment though.
In 2019, it is rare to see betelnut girls barely clad and attracting customers. The glass neon boxes still exist on the side of the road, but with less flair from the salesperson.