Elise Amendola, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2009 file photo, a can of Spam is shown on a counter in North Andover, Mass. To honor Spam lovers in Hawaii, Hormel Foods will release a new flavor, Portuguese sausage Spam, exclusively for the state at a street festival on Saturday, May 2, 2015 in Honolulu. The flavor, which will be available to sample at the event, may eventually be sold elsewhere in the region and internationally.

HONOLULU — An annual food festival in Honolulu features an unlikely star — Spam canned meat.

Spam Jam, happening Saturday near Waikiki beach, hosts local restaurants that serve creative variations of canned-meat dishes to a crowd of nearly 25,000, according to organizers.

Hawaii consumes more Spam than any other state in the nation. So Hormel plans to release a new flavor — Portuguese sausage Spam — that is, at least for now, exclusively for the Aloha State.

Spam became popular in Hawaii during World War II, when it was being shipped to military personnel on the islands. It doesn't need to be refrigerated and has a long shelf life, making it ideal for the long journey from the mainland.

In 2014, the festival raised nearly $25,000 in donations for local charities.