For horseradish lovers, hotter is better.

Connoisseurs of Hot approach the jar with lust-avoidance. At five feet, the nose begins to itch, the hands begin to twitch. They can't wait. And yet . . . they hesitate as they dip the knife, make the spread, pause, bite, swallow and then-YEOW!

Sweat pours from the brow. Tears roll down the cheeks. Sinuses drain. As if possessed, the smitten may fall into a writhing jig. For balance, they may grope for a table, a chair, a sink, a helping hand. In a few seconds, though, life returns to normal.

Consenting adults are advised to use horseradish behind closed doors only, as it can be devastating for small children to watch grownups Lose Control.

Thus, it was with caution that we sought out adventureous volunteers for an informal horseradish taste test.

Seven people tested five different brands for bouquet, hue, audacity and spirit. Common reactions were noted. They matched all the symptoms of Horseradish Madness: teary, popped-out eyes, frantic fanning of the hands and cleared sinuses, etc. The envelope please:

Tulkoff's kosher Coarse-Cut: Earthy aged, "locker room smell"; medium fire with a rooty texture and musky aroma; light fresh color; stays close to its roots; staunch but sensitive.

Tulkoff's Horseradish: Marine sharpness; starts at the back of the throat and works its way up to the nose; sweet; burns and crashes; gives good watery eyes; makes you shake and shimmy; pernicious but good color.

Good Horseradish (Delaware Packing Company): dull smell; late bloomer; nice afterglow; tannic smell with a dusty appearance; mildmembrance tickle; piercing.

Tommy's Tea & Spice Co. Dried Horseradish (mixed with water): concentrated, harsh taste with no depth; akin to Chinese mustard; blood-shot hot; dies fast, no bouquet; bleached out. Okay for a nasal spray. Bitter and caustic; "ego deflating".

Kraft Prepared Horseradish: nice odor, well-rounded, sweet and sour pickle flavor; metallic bite; mottled.

Herb's Double H (red) Prepared Horseradish: Beety, unhorsey taste; the sissy of horseradishes; can't get you high; no umph; weak, really weak.