EXTREME eaters across the world are enjoying the world's hottest chilli sauce - made by a North-East stockbroker.
Mark McMullan, from Darlington, first made the sauce in his kitchen "for a laugh".
But when the Snake Bite Sauce was launched on the internet, it sold 400 bottles in eight hours.
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The remaining 100 bottles sold soon after.
Orders came from Australia, the US and all over Europe.
There has even been interest from Nepal, Iran, and Mongolia.
The sauce is made from the rare naga morich chilli, which is 300 times hotter than a jalapeno.
Mr McMullan has been a chilli fanatic for five years.
His website, a resource for other chilli growers, attracts 400,000 hits a month.
He first imported the naga morich seed - known as the "Serpent Chilli" - from a contact in Bangladesh 18 months ago.
He tested Snake Bite sauce on friends in Darlington, before deciding to make a batch three months ago.
"I wanted to make about 100 bottles for friends," said Mr McMullan.
"But I got the calculations wrong.
"We ended up with 500. I'm thinking, 'I wasn't going to be able to shift 100 - all of a sudden, I've got 500 on my hands'."
The sauce was advertised on Mr McMullan's site - thechileman.org - and soon became the talk of the chilli world.
"The Americans have to have the hottest sauce possible," said Mr McMullan.
"This is the only sauce in the world that uses naga pods. It is totally natural, no extracts, no chemicals.
"It has just gone down an absolute storm.
"The problem is, I have a full-time job. I've been getting up at 5am, going through orders for two hours, coming back, then working again until midnight."
The sauce is produced by one of Mr McMullan's friends, who owns a factory in Brighton.
Mr McMullan was only happy with the finished product after a number of taste tests.
He is now trying to raise capital to order a fresh batch of Snake Bite sauce - and is dreaming of the sauce being stocked in his home town.
"It would be my dream to see it on the shelves here," he said.
"To see shops selling it in Darlington and people buying it would be fantastic."
Naga Snake Bite, with five naga pods, and Naga Snake Bite Private Reserve, with ten naga pods, can be ordered from www.thechileman.org
It felt like chewing white-hot coals
Just how hot is Mark McMullan's sauce? Owen Amos found out
The Naga Snake Bite sauce bottle boasts it is "like drinking cobra venom".
After a teaspoonful of the sauce, I think I would have preferred the venom. At first, the sauce kids you. It tastes nice. Fruity. Tangy even. I could taste the tomatoes; I even picked up a hint of ginger.
Seconds later, the taste is smashed by the heat. My mouth started to burn - and I mean really burn. It was like pouring petrol on a bonfire.
I felt like I was chewing white-hot coals. I almost ripped the fire extinguisher from the wall.
There was nothing to do but swallow. But the raging inferno would not go that easily. Even after the sauce was safely down my throat, my mouth sizzled. When I exhaled, I expected to see smoke. You could have fried an egg on my tongue.
Ten minutes later, I was still gulping down milk. Even my eyes weren't safe - when I rubbed them half an hour later, they burned too.
My bottle of Naga Snake Bite is destined to stay on the shelf for a while yet. Well, at least until my brother comes round for a burger.