Comparison finds gas not priciest ‘fuel’ we use

Be thankful your car doesn’t run on Starbucks coffee.

Because if it did, when you pull up to the pump to fill your tank, you’d be shelling out $12.88 per gallon of the black, aromatic beverage.

Or – just for conversation’s sake – say you have a vehicle powered by beer.

If your fuel of choice happens to be Budweiser or Bud Light, you’d be paying $9.73 per gallon of amber suds.

These scenarios might sound ridiculous, but there’s a point to be made here.

As you’re gassing up your car or truck for the Fourth of July holiday, consider this: Gas prices feel painfully high these days, but they’re a relative bargain compared to the cost of other consumer products sold by the fluid ounce or gallon.

Check it out.

The average cost of a gallon of regular gas in Lawrence is $2.135, according to the American Automobile Assn.’s online Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Meanwhile, Starbucks Coffee, 647 Mass., sells a one-gallon container of black coffee (the “Coffee Traveler”) for $12.88, including cups, cream and sugar.

You can buy a six-pack of Budweiser or Bud Light for $5.49 at Alvin’s Wines & Spirits, 4000 W. Sixth St. Each can or bottle contains 12 fluid ounces. So a gallon of Bud would cost you $9.73.

The fact is, you pay less for a gallon of gas than you would for the same amount of Blue Bunny Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream ($8.38), Pure Wesson Vegetable Oil ($5.47) or bottled Evian Natural Spring Water ($5.12).

Even milk’s more expensive than gas. A gallon of Hy-Vee Vitamin D milk costs $3.49.

Here’s something else to put the current cost of gas into perspective.

Pump prices

If you’re heading out on the road for the Fourth of July and are looking for the best prices for gasoline in the area – or anywhere in the country – here are two good resources to check out.

Go to the American Automobile Assn.’s Kansas Web site at and find “AAA Quick Links” on the upper left-hand side of the page. A click on “Current Fuel Prices” will take you to the AAA’s Fuel Price Finder, which lists the latest fuel prices at more than 85,000 stations nationwide.

Or go online to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report at, which can show you the average retail gasoline prices and other cost details in markets across the country.

Both these Web sites can automatically calculate the estimated fuel cost for your trip from one point to another.

In 1980-81, the average retail price of a gallon of gas was $1.38. In 2005 dollars, adjusted for inflation, that works out to $2.95 per gallon.


That’s according to Paul Hesse, an information specialist with the Energy Information Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, in Washington, D.C.

But putting today’s gas prices into context doesn’t do much to assuage the pain of Brad Sorrick, who drives a delivery route for Frito-Lay in Lawrence.

“You have to have gas to go to work (unlike coffee, beer, milk or ice cream). When you put your income into the gas tank, you don’t have money to buy a bag of Fritos or a pop, and that’s my business,” says Sorrick, who lives south of Lecompton.

He’s not impressed by the per-gallon cost comparison of gas and other consumer products.

“If you can afford Starbucks, more power to you. I can’t afford it. Four-dollar gas wouldn’t affect a rich person, if they can afford a $4 cup of coffee,” Sorrick says.

Phil Myrick, a Lawrence man who drives a 1994 Dodge Caravan, shrugs off the suggestion that gas is relatively cheap, compared to other staple items.

“You can do without some of the other stuff, but you can’t do without gas,” he says. “I know we’re paying less (for gas) than they are in Canada.”