It Could Be Worse: 9 Everyday Items More Expensive Than Gasoline

I drove by the corner gas station today, as I do everyday on my way home from work, and I couldn’t help but notice that the price of gasoline rose another few cents over the weekend. This time the sign was unapologetically advertising a price of $4.179 per gallon.

You know, I hate that sign. Some days I feel like it is taunting me — especially the ones when I have no choice but to pull into the station and fill ‘er up.

“I’ve read your blog, Penzo,” that dumb old sign will say. “You and I both know shopping for low gas prices is a losing proposition, so suck it up and pay the piper.”

The fact that I own a Honda Civic that averages about 35 miles per gallon doesn’t make it any less painful; I still end up dropping more than $30 each time I fill up the tank.

Anyway, when I got home I had to share the latest gas price news with the Honeybee, who happened to be curled up on the couch with a good book (so I’m told). “Can you believe it? Gas is up to $4.17!” I said, not even bothering to say hello.

“That’s three cents more than Friday!” she replied, also not bothering to say hello. With that the Honeybee promptly took a sip from one of her favorite drinks — a foo foo iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks. Then she said, “You know, gas prices are just outrageous right now!”

She was right. But as I watched her take another swig of her drink, it dawned on me that gasoline really ain’t such a bad deal when compared to those expensive beverages from the Starbucks menu — or a lot of other everyday products for that matter. Consider that the 24-ounce caramel macchiato in her hand cost $4.65; if Starbucks priced them like Exxon prices gasoline, that drink would cost $24.799 per gallon.

And we’re complaining about the price of a gallon of gas?

There are plenty of other examples, of course. Here are just a few based upon a quick price survey I recently conducted:

Item Container Size Price Per Container
Price If Sold by Exxon (Cost Per Gallon)
Coke (12-pack) 144 oz. $5.10 $4.529
Coke (vending machine) 20 oz. $1.35 $8.639
Welch’s grape juice (2-pack) 92 oz. $7.18 $9.989
Coffee-Mate creamer 32 oz. $4.69 $18.759
Kikkoman soy sauce 64 oz. $11.84 $23.679
Red Bull 8.3 oz. $1.99 $30.689
Simply Saline saline solution 12 oz. $5.94 $63.359
Jack Daniel’s whiskey 59.17 oz. $31.98 $69.179
Tabasco Brand pepper sauce 5 oz. $3.99 $102.139

So, as you can see, when put in perspective, gasoline prices really are a bargain when compared to a lot of other everyday products on a per-gallon basis — especially when you realize what you get for the money.

After all, consider what a gallon of gas buys you. Depending on the type of car you drive, that gallon of gas provides the energy required to quickly transport you, your vehicle, and a load of passengers perhaps as far as 40 miles down the road. Not bad, considering what a taxi would charge for the same trip — or the length of time and inconvenience associated with public transportation.

Think about that the next time you feel like paying the equivalent of $25 per gallon for one of those foo foo drinks from Starbucks, or a can of Red Bull at $30 per gallon. Now that’s outrageous.

Photo Credit: AgentAkit

47 comments to It Could Be Worse: 9 Everyday Items More Expensive Than Gasoline

  • Precisely. We’re paying almost $5 per gallon here in Canada (after converting the litres to a gallon). (as usual we pay about 20% more for everything here).

    People can carpool, change their driving habits, maintain their cars better – there are lots of way to use fuel more efficiently but you will still see those complaining about fuel prices speeding 15 mph faster than the limit having not pumped up their tires in 10 months alone in their car drinking a red bull.

  • PK

    Whoa, your prices for Coke are way off. 12 packs cost $3 (25 cents a can), if they cost more go to a different store or check if Pepsi is cheaper this week. Pop machines are usually only $1; yes they sometimes cost more but I wouldn’t say it’s normal.
    I also like that you show a 1.75L bottle of Jack, that much whiskey is about a decades worth or more!

    • Len Penzo

      I’ll grant you that you can find Coke cheaper depending on where you live. However, regarding the Jack Daniels, you obviously don’t know the Honeybee very well. ;-)

  • Chelsie

    Isn’t it interesting how much things really cost when put in perspective? I love to put Tabasco on almost everything I eat but I had no idea it cost over $100/gallon! Good thing I only use a few shakes from the bottle every time I use it. :-)

  • nansuelee

    Good post. It is all relative, I purchase more gas than any of the other types of items. I am going to continue to purchase Jack Daniels even at $69 per gallon.

  • Len,

    I think the price of Jack Daniels is just outrageous!!! It’s only 80 proof and it’s not even from Bourbon county.

    I think you need to do a comparison post on American whiskeys. And, since you can’t use your kids as taste testers, I would be happy to volunteer. ;-)

    Bret

    • Len Penzo

      I’ll pass that one on to the Honeybee. Something tells me she won’t care.

      (I do like the whiskey tasting idea, Bret!)

  • I’ve often thought of how other things are more expensive, but have never actually sat down to figure it out. Good perspective!

  • That’s so interesting! So, we shouldn’t complain about what the price of gas is… I agree with you, compared to what we can do with a gallon of gasoline, it’s not that expensive (though in Spain is more expensive than in USA). I just calculated what a gallon of gasoline cost in Girona (my hometown) –> $8,29 per gallon. So so expensive!

  • You are absolutely right, there are more expensive items than gas! I can give up the others, but it is tougher to give up gas entirely. Even if I give up the car, everything increases in price thanks to transportation costs. I guess the best I can do as an individual is drive less so demand lowers the price.

  • WB

    I appreciate your calculations and you are correct. I live in a rural area without mass transportation and riding a bike is not possible. I have to have gas. I can do without all of the items on your list. To be fair none of the items on your list helps me make a living so I guess I derive more benefit for the cost. But it makes me no happier especially when I hear Exxon will be announcing quarterly profits in the 10 billion range. Otherwise I can’t do much about it except pay the price they charge.

    As always, I enjoy your blog.

    • Len Penzo

      Just to be clear, WB, I do realize that comparing gasoline to Red Bull or Tabasco sauce is a fairly senseless exercise; I think the price of gasoline is ridiculous and is self-inflicted on our part.

      (Sometimes my humor can be so dry that it’s very easy to misinterpret where I am really coming from.)

  • I dunno, Len. Interesteing analogy, but it’s really apples to oranges. Fortunalely I can make it to and from work without burning through a few gallons of Coke a week. Plus, I don’t have to worry about a spike in soda prices if there is political unrest in Atlanta (Coke’s Headquarters). ;)

  • Verrry funny! Needed a good laugh today. I’ll keep this in mind on my next trip to the pump. :D

  • sheila hicks

    Len: Thanks for another great read! I truly enjoy your blog!

  • WB

    My apologies Len as I totally misinterpretd your intent. I have heard others use such examples as you did and they were totally serious.

    Have a good one.

  • Good post, it provides a little perspective on the ever present angst over high gas prices!

  • Nice, I like the comparisons. Im thankful that none of those everyday items are not purchases of mine, well except maybe some Jack everyone once in awhile!

  • Noah

    You forgot printer ink, which comes in at around $8000 per gallon.

  • m

    Hey, don’t hate on public transportation. Add in the price of parking for a trip to see a ballgame or a play, and your price per gallon goes way up. Well, at least mine does. Parking would be upwards of $20, but I’d use less than a quarter of a gallon. So $4.17+20*4=84.17/gallon for a trip.

    As for convenience: no thank you to traffic.

    • Len Penzo

      Okay, m… you’ve stumped the dummy (i.e., me). Why did you multiply the parking fee by 4?

      • joex444

        You clearly wanted to see “m” calculate the trip as:
        $4.17/4 + $20 = $21.04. But “m” said that uses 1/4 of a gallon, so multiply the $21.04 by 4 and you get $84.16/gallon.

        • Len Penzo

          If “m” only uses .25 gallons per trip, then unless I am missing something, the calculation for cost per gallon for each trip looks like this:

          $4.17/4 +$20 = $21.04/gallon per trip

          OR

          $84.16/gallon for 4 trips

  • Funny post – thanks. Here’s a suggestion….own oil stock – at least you get some of the upside when prices are high.

  • XJ

    If only a gallon of gas would last as long as a gallon of tabasco sauce! I’d only need one gallon of gas in my lifetime. :D

  • You are right. But the problem is I do have to drive whereas
    1. I never buy from Starbucks
    2. Drink equivalent of one 12-oz can of coke in two weeks
    3. Don’t drink any of the sugary liquid like Welch’s
    4. I don’t use coffee-mate. Am black coffee drinker
    5. Use soy sauce once in a while
    6. Never drank Red Bull or another “energy” drink
    7. I don’t know what Simply Saline solution is and am glad I don’t.
    8. Jack Daniels whiskey or any other, I don’t drink, period.
    9. Tabasco Brand pepper sauce – only once in a while. One small 2-3 oz bottle lasts me months.

    BUT I DO HAVE TO DRIVE EVERYDAY and so do most people. That’s why the complaints.

  • I do not use any of these products…although I would like to see what a gallon of home brewed Starbucks coffee would cost me.

    My organic apple juice from Whole Foods is $6 a gallon…

  • Rusty

    You missed one of the items that is most popular, least necessary and marketed like your life depends on it: bottled water. Mineral, spring, distilled or flavored — it’s still just water. I believe Consumer Reports or some other report did a study and found many brands to contain contaminates or were not significantly different from tap water. I drink water, but I never buy it in a plastic bottle. Depending the brand and where you purchasae it, it can cost from $.50/gal to $10/gal. Bottled water’s greatest benefit is portability to areas that have no reliable water source or when there’s a natural (or man-made) disaster. If you don’t trust your municiple water supply, inexpensive carbon filters are readily avaiable in many configurations. My new refrigerator came with a carbon filter. How did humans survive these millennia without bottled water, Starbucks, and cell phones?

  • Cemlyn Jones

    Hi Len. Ok so you think you have it bad a $4 something a gallon. Well try this for size. I’m British and we pay 1.40 UK pounds per liter. There are 3.79 liters to the US Gallon. That’s 5.30 UK pounds per US Gallon. At todays exchange rate of $1.61 to the pound, that makes UK gasoline a whole $8.53 for 1 US Gallon. Now start hurting !!!

  • Leasi

    Hi, there is notthing more expensive (in liquid form) than the a ink cartdrige for your printer. It is ridiculously expensive, and comparing with it, gas is not so bad.

  • Brenda

    Some of the seem relatively cheap when compared to the price of a gallon of shampoo- even the non-salon brands are over $100 per gallon! Compute the cost of brand you are using- it might make your hair stand on end- no mousse required! :-)

  • Guy

    http://countrystore.tabasco.com/prodinfo.asp?number=00052

    That says that Tabasco is only 40$ for a gallon, plus you get a free gallon jug! Your numbers are suspect… :-)

    The problem with gas isn’t the price but how quickly it goes. If I could spend 100$ a gallon but it last me a month I’d be really happy. Alas, I have to spend 5$ a gallon and fill up multiple times a week.

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