As I sat at my desk at work and took a bite into a soft, sweet chocolate coconut doughnut, I couldn’t help but smile. It reminded me of the fresh doughnuts my mother brings home every so often from the Amish who live in the community I grew up in.
My morning hadn’t started off well — I’d just returned to Bangor from a long weekend spent outdoors in Aroostook County and dreaded leaving the warm tangle of blankets on my bed. But then I remembered that I had plans for the morning.
I was going to Gosselin’s Bakery.
I’d tried to stop a couple times before, but it was always after they had closed that I found myself with free time, so I made a point to rise early and head over to the bakery to get my doughnut fix — and talk to one of the people behind the business’ success, Yvette Stewart.
She was busy helping customers when I walked in, so I bided my time, taking in the sweet aroma of fresh baked goods and watching her work. Behind the counter there was a variety of doughnuts to choose from — coconut, butter crunch, chocolate glazed, raspberry-filled — you name it, they had it.
After the customer left I approached Yvette and she was more than happy to tell me all about Gosselin’s — a family business that passed into the hands of Yvette, her husband and her siblings after her father, Harvey Jr., passed away and her mother, Annette, retired.
This year marks 71 years that Gosselin’s has been in business. Yvette is part of the third generation of Gosselins to run the bakery, which began with Yvette’s grandparents, Harvey Gosselin Sr. and Dorothy Gosselin, who opened the business in 1945. After Harvey Sr. passed in 1966, Yvette’s father took over.
“Six years ago my father became ill and my mother got hurt,” Yvette told me. The main question then became a difficult one to ask: “What will be done with the bakery?”
As Yvette’s mother was getting wheeled into surgery after being injured, Yvette, her husband and her brothers assured her that they could handle it, but they had a couple questions first.
“We were so green. My mother was getting wheeled into surgery and we were like, ‘Mum, how much are doughnuts?’” Yvette said with a laugh.
Her mother’s response was simple: “Don’t worry, the customers will let you know.”
A loyal customer base was established long ago and would help the place stay afloat, but it was also baker Bob Cooper’s training under Harvey Jr. that would ensure the continued success of the business.
“Bob trained with my dad side by side for years,” Yvette told me. Bob works at the bakery six nights per week, preparing 400 dozen doughnuts every night for customers to enjoy the next morning. He hand rolls and cuts some of the doughnuts and mixes the cake doughnuts by hand, which are then cut by machine because he has to make so many of them.
The doughnuts are finished off by hand as well. They’re glazed, coconut-ed, crunch-ed, sugared and filled — all by Bob. If not for him and the two baker’s helpers and delivery person, Yvette says she’s not sure where the business would be.
“He deserves all the credit,” she said.
Yvette doesn’t bake, but she is the friendly face customers see at the Bangor-based business most mornings. Gosselin’s also has a Brewer branch, which opened in 2014.
Yvette said that the only regret she has is not paying closer attention when she had the chance.
“I wish I had taken it more seriously when I was younger,” she said. She has quickly realized how much hard work her parents and her grandparents before them put into the bakery.
“Being here I’ve realized how much work it is, how lucky we are with our customers and how much of a legacy we are,” she said. Yvette said she has fond memories of growing up with a bakery in the family. She particularly remembers that when she was younger, her parents would call the plain coconut doughnuts “coconut cream” doughnuts.
Not many people call them by that anymore, but every so often one will walk in.
“I know they’ve been customer for a long time when they call them that,” she said.
This Friday marks National Doughnut Day, which is one of Gosselin’s busiest days of the year, preceded only by Christmas Eve.
I hope to make a stop in on Friday morning before all the doughnuts run out (which happens every so often). At 334 Harlow St., the business is open 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and 5 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday — and be sure to bring cash or a check, as they don’t take debit or credit cards.
If you walk in, you’ll likely be met by Yvette, a friendly face who is happy to show up to work in the morning and continue the legacy her family left behind.
“I have so much fun,” she told me.
I handed Yvette 90 cents in exchange for a chocolate coconut doughnut and was about to walk out the door when I decided to get another — a raspberry-filled. My advice? If you can’t decide on which to get, just get both.