Beef Bandage

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Steak 8114.jpg

Lottie: I'll bring a steak to reduce any swelling from the beats.
Mildred: Does that actually work?
Lottie: I dunno. I think the idea's just that you're doing pretty good compared to the cow.


Have an injury? Just slap a piece of steak over that wound!

The Beef Bandage is when a character applies a raw, (and sometimes bloody) slab of steak over a fresh wound, commonly a black eye. It is said that the steak stops the swelling of the wound, or successfully acts as an icepack if the steak is frozen. Can be Played for Laughs if the beef bandage is later used for dinner (or if someone mentions that it was supposed to be used for dinner).

Truth in Television, although it isn't really recommended that you try it, unless the steak is frozen and sealed inside plastic wrap. Cow blood seeping into one of the most absorbent parts of your body (the eye) usually isn't good for you. You're probably better off with an ice pack.[1] The reason behind using a steak was the fact that steak in general is kind of flexible and would form to the contour of your eye socket. (Bags of frozen peas are sometimes used for the same purpose.) Nowadays, most people simply recommend a washcloth soaked in cold water.

The steak treatment may originate in ancient Greek medical theory of the "Four Humors." The beef, being red and bloody, would draw out the swelling. It didn't work, but since the treatment was fairly harmless and the cool meat might actually make it feel better, the custom persisted.

Not to be confused with Hyperactive Metabolism, though "Turkey Bandage" was proposed as a name for that.

Examples of Beef Bandage include:

Comic Books

  • In Richie Rich, Cadbury had the pleasure of being Beef Bandaged.
  • In the Batman /DocSavage Crossover, Bruce is spending the morning sitting beside Wayne Manor's pool, discussing the Gotham Gazette's coverage of last night's Batmanning with Alfred.

Alfred: Incidently Master Bruce, I've brought you a steak.
Bruce: For breakfast?
Alfred: For your eye.
*Bruce removes his sunglasses, revealing a prominent shiner.*

  • In an issue of Asterix, a merchant asks a butcher for a steak after getting badly beaten up.
  • Was standard treatment for a black eye in The Beano, The Dandy and so on, in the good old days when children's comic characters regularly beat each other up to that extent.


  • Happens to Smalls in The Sandlot.
  • Secondhand Lions does this with a gang of thugs whom Hub beats up mere hours after getting out of the hospital for a heart attack. When he later comes by to collect the meat scraps, he invites them all to stay for dinner.
  • In Meet the Robinsons, Goob wanders into the room holding a steak over his eye after getting beat up by his teammates for missing the ball, and complaining about his lack of sleep.

"Mister Steak, you're my only friend."

  • In the Disney movie Smart House, the titular house is taught how to be motherly by a marathon of 1950s comedies. When it recommends a steak for a bruised eye, the father of the family observes, "That hasn't been done since the '50s."
  • Cadbury in the Richie Rich movie.
  • In the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical Top Hat, Horace gets a black eye. Jerry recommends a raw steak, so Horace tells his servant to order one from the hotel kitchen. Too bad miscommunication results in a cooked steak with all the fixings being delivered instead. What a shock to get one of those on the eye!
  • Done at one point in Dragonheart.
  • In Gangs of New York, Amsterdam gets a nice bloody slab slapped on his eye wound after a dust up with Bill's right-hand man. Appropriate enough, given it happens in a butcher shop.


Live Action TV

  • Kramer applies a Beef Bandage to his face in an episode of Seinfeld.
  • Occurs in an episode of The Brady Bunch to Peter.
  • Done during the first season of M*A*S*H with Trapper after the boxing match.
  • In one episode of Chuck, Chuck can't afford a steak, so he brings Sarah a hamburger patty for her black eye.
  • In Roswell Max pretends to do this, but actually uses his alien Healing Hands to cure the wound. The guy is incredulous at just how well it worked.
  • In an episode of Home Improvement, Tim has a black eye because Jill accidentally hit him. George Foreman, who is guest-starring on Tool Time, recommends that he put a thick steak on it. Al says he thought you were supposed to put ice on a black eye, to which Foreman says, "But when you're done with ice, you can't barbecue it."
  • In a Christmas episode of Bewitched, the Stevenses and their neighbors, the Kravitzes, each decide to temporarily adopt an orphan for the holidays. Said kids get into a fistfight over the existence of Santa Claus. Mrs. Kravitz suggests that they buy steak for the resulting shiner; Mr. Kravitz wonders why they can't just use cold cuts.
  • In an episode of Green Acres that tells the story of some farmers in a book Oliver is reading, the character that Lisa plays puts one over Oliver's character's eye after getting into a fight at a barn dance. Actually it was pot roast, but same difference.
  • In Roundhouse, the "new kid" uses one following a punch from The Bully, until his Bumbling Dad asks to put it on the grill.

Web Comics

  • Discussed in Bad Machinery, here. Mildred is skeptical about whether it actually works, while Lottie thinks it's supposed to be a reminder that "you're doing pretty good compared to the cow".

Western Animation

  • Has happened at least once with a brontosaurus steak on The Flintstones.
  • Done in Popeye.
  • Used in Recess. One of the main characters gets a bruised eye, and he comes to school using this. The other kids speculate on how he got it.
  • Used in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy in the episode where Grim becomes alive. He gets punched by a guy at the mall, and then Grim is seen using this. Then Billy's dad punches him out of jealousy because his wife is taking care of Grim.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Comet Kermillion," Doofenshmirtz invents "Steak Specs," glasses made from steaks, so he won't have to hold a steak up to his black eye.
  • Used in Dumbo by one of the elephants after the tent collapse.
  1. Oh, and wrap that ice pack in a towel or some other kind of cloth. Those things are cold enough to do some pretty bad things to your skin if you keep 'em on long enough, kids.