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Beef Bandage

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There goes his evening dinner.

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.

The existence of this treatment is Truth in Television, although it isn't really recommended that you try it unless the steak is fresh out of the fridge or freezer, and sealed inside plastic wrap. Bacteria filled juices 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. note  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 vegetables are sometimes used for the same purpose. Nowadays, most people simply recommend a washcloth soaked in cold water. Meat bandages are also an effective way to deal with botfly maggots, as the maggots are likely to leave the infested person's flesh and burrow into the meat, which can then be discarded.

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.

There are also records of Ancient Egyptians using meat, Honey (actually a somewhat decent antiseptic, given that chemicals in it ward off many types of bacteria), and Moldy bread (the mold was a primitive penicillin) to treat wounds.

Not to Be Confused with Hyperactive Metabolism (where actually eating the steak instantly cures wounds from various sources), though "Turkey Bandage" was proposed as a name for that. Subtrope of Improvised Bandage.


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    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: In Asterix and the Golden Sickle, a merchant asks a butcher for a steak after getting badly beaten up. Given afterwards the merchant has to run from the title character, the butcher chases him wanting to get paid... and eventually gets punched, requiring a steak of his own once returning home.
  • 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.
  • Hawkeye: Kate Bishop has one page opening with Kate putting a frozen pea package on her injured forehead while doing a monologue on how "No super hero freezer is not complete without frozen peas. Not for eating of course..."
  • In the Batman/Doc Savage 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: Incidentally Master Bruce, I've brought you a steak.
    Bruce: For breakfast?
    Alfred: For your eye.
    *Bruce removes his sunglasses, revealing a prominent shiner.*
  • Le Gardenie has another variant in the first issue, when Kiwi uses a hard-boiled egg to treat Orange's bruised cheek.
  • In Richie Rich, Cadbury had the pleasure of being Beef Bandaged.

  • Anger Management: Discussed when Leni wants to make Lynn a steak for her eye, having heard of the treatment.
  • In Surrogate of Zero, Shinji uses one after Louise blows him up over a traumatic bit of roleplaying.

    Film — Animated 
  • Used in Dumbo by one of the elephants after the tent collapse.
  • 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."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A Star Is Born (2018): After Ally injures her hand punching an obnoxious bar patron, Jackson goes with her to the supermarket and buys frozen veggies and gauze for healing.
  • The Beast of Hollow Mountain: After his fight with Enrique, Felipe hands Jimmy a raw steak which he puts on his black eye while talking to don Pedro.
  • Bridesmaids: The bag of frozen vegetables variant is used. Annie's idiot roommate opens the bag of peas and pours them down her back, then blames Annie for not specifying to keep the bag closed.
  • 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.
  • Kate. After her Brutal Brawl with Jojima, Kate gets a beef bandage from his refrigerator and in doing so realises that he has weapons concealed inside the fridge door.
  • Love Before Breakfast: Kay goes to a salon to fix up her black eye, she’s given a beef treatment.
    Kay: Put the whole cow on if it'll help any.
  • Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical: Mae wears a steak over her eye after some domestic abuse. The steak is promptly eaten by stoners with the munchies.
  • Richie Rich: After Cadbury escapes from prison and he and Riche seek shelter at Gloria's house, Gloria's mother Dianne slaps a steak on the swollen eye Cadbury got in a fight.
  • The Sandlot: When Smalls takes a baseball to the eye when playing catch with his stepfather, the next scene is the stepfather rushing the boy into the kitchen, sitting him down at the table and then rummaging into the fridge to get a frozen pork chop out to put on his eye.
  • 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, serving steaks they've used.
  • Smart House: PAT the computerized housekeeper is taught how to be motherly by a marathon of 1950s comedies. When it recommends a steak for Ben Cooper’s bruised eye, Nick Cooper, the family patriarch observes, "Nobody’s used that since the '50s."
  • 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!
  • The Young Rebel: After fighting off a group of hooligans, Xiang, returning to the shop, is shown holding a slab of cold beef to his cheek where he was punched previously during the brawl.

  • The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies mentions the steak in the "Black Eye" section of the book. The book says however that it was the coldness of the steak causing the healing of the wound or black eye. In fact, the book even goes on to say a vegetarian may have gotten the same result from iceberg lettuce.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hagrid does this with dragon steak once he returns to Hogwarts after meeting with the giants, and enduring some rather brutal beatdowns.
  • The botfly maggot version occurs in the Young Bond novel Hurricane Gold. Bond bandages a piece of bacon to Precious Stone's back to draw out the larva.
  • In The Magician's Nephew, when the jeweler complains that Jadis blacked his eye, a butcher's boy recommends a nice raw beefsteak to reduce the swelling.
  • In Nine Goblins, one is offered to Mushkin after he gets a black eye.
  • In Smoke Bitten, Mercy uses the bag of frozen vegetables variant (specifically frozen peas) after she gets her nose broken in an attack, saying that she finds it more comfortable against bruises than an ice pack.
  • Done at least once in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Bones uses the vegetable variant. When Booth & Brennan are stuck in an old fashioned open elevator during a power outage, Booth hurts his back. Sweets brings a bag of frozen peas from a neighbor. "I'm not cooking dinner!"
  • The Boys (2019). In "We Gotta Go Now", Billy Butcher slaps a packet of frozen peas on his face after being beaten up in a Bad-Guy Bar. Ironically the packet of peas has Celebrity Endorsement from Homelander, the superhero that Butcher has an ongoing vendetta against.
  • The Brady Bunch: In Season 2's "A Fistful Of Reasons," on two occasions Peter uses frozen steaks to nurse black eyes he had gotten from Buddy Hinton, a bully he was feuding with when Buddy was mocking the lisp of Peter's younger sister, Cindy.
  • In one episode of Chuck, Chuck can't afford a steak, so he brings Sarah an uncooked hamburger patty for her black eye.
  • In an episode of The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Eddie puts a steak over his eye after getting punched at school.
  • 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.
  • Hannah does this with a frozen fish from a cooking show in Hannah Montana.
    Robbie: You know, when we get home I might cook that up for you, just for the halibut. Halibut!
  • On Happy Days, in the episode where the boys fight a gang called the Red Devils, they go back to the Cunningham house for an After-Action Patch-Up, where Mrs. C gives Potsie one.
  • In one episode of Hawkeye (2021) there is Kate making an ice pack out of a frozen pizza box (she says it also helps heat the pie to later feed the dog), and another has Clint taping several frozen margarita bags to his injuries.
  • Vegetable version: In Heartbreak High (2022), Malakai improvises an icepack for Amerie out of a sock and a bag of frozen peas. It actually works pretty well.
  • 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 the Honey West episode "The Abominable Snowman," Sam drapes a raw steak meant for Bruce the ocelot over his black eye after he gets in a fistfight.
  • Mr Edwards does this in an episode of Little House on the Prairie.
  • Done during the first season of M*A*S*H with Trapper after the boxing match.
  • In an episode of My Favorite Martian, Bill Bixby's character needs one after a night of running around to save 'Uncle Martin'. 'Uncle Martin' suggests he should get it cooked well-done to say "Well done.".
  • New Tricks: In "The Curate's Egg", Fiona holds a slab of beef wellington on Danny's eye after he is punched by her father.
  • 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 Roundhouse, the "new kid" uses one following a punch from The Bully, until his Bumbling Dad asks to put it on the grill.
  • Kramer applies one to his face in an episode of Seinfeld ("The Apology").
    • He borrows it from Jerry when he gets a black eye, then later asks for some A-1, because he is also cooking a steak of his own at the time.
  • Sanford and Son: Following a fight with the ex of a girl he's seeing, crazy old Grady Wilson puts a slice of bologna on Lamont's black eye because, as he says, steak is much too expensive.
  • Victorious: When Trina starts complaining about pain after getting her wisdom teeth removed, Tori rummages through the freezer, looking for something to soothe her pain. She finds a bag of peas, which Trina complains about because she doesn't like peas. However, she changes her tune once the peas are on her mouth.

  • Variant in "Your Honor" by Regina Spektor:
    Gargle with peroxide, a steak for your eye,
    But I'm a vegetarian, so it's a frozen pizza pie


  • In The Moon is Blue, after Don receives a shiner from Patty's dad. Patty, who is concerned about his eye but believes he deserved it, suggests this:
    Patty: You should have put some raw steak on it.
    Don (Irate again): If you hadn't invited Slater for dinner there might have been some steak left for me to put on it.

    Video Games 
  • The Monster Hunter series has at least one kind of item that heals all the red damage you have taken, which is useful if a monster does a boatload of damage with each hit. It is always some kind of meat item, usually jerky.

  • Discussed in Bad Machinery, here. Mildred is sceptical 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". (In the end, she can't afford steak and buys a pack of frozen beef burgers.)

    Western Animation 
  • Used in Recess. T.J. gets a black eye, and he's doing this on the drive to school. When he gets there, his parents ask for the steak back, saying that they need it for tonight's dinner.