Note: Tracking the origins for the majority of popular sayings isn't easy, in fact, it's often impossible. Usually what you will find are plausible theories that try to explain a phrase's origin, but remember, they are just theories.
The quotes on this website come from older books, poems, newspapers, etc. They can be used as an indicator to determine how old some of these sayings are. Keep in mind, however, that if a saying is being used in an old newspaper, it's probably already well-known, so it's likely older than that.
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knowyourphrase.com - Meanings and Origins of Phrases
Practical or humble; unpretentious; reasonable.
The origins for this phrase are unclear, but here's something I found to be
interesting: There exists a phrase that describes a person as having their
"head in the clouds." Generally, that means the person is impractical and is
out of touch with what's happening around them, i.e. it means someone who
is not grounded in reality.
Now, on the other hand, you have the phrase "down to earth," which means that a person or thing is practical; it's someone or something that is grounded in reality. These two phrases basically have opposite meanings and they also reference opposite heights; one is up high, the other is down low.
Anyways, from what I've found, this phrase looks to have emerged within the early 20th century, as that is when it started to appear in writing. In the Newark Advocate newspaper from 1922, for example, there is a section about women's clothing and the idiom is used to describe their practical prices:
"Here are four groups of worth-while garments at 'down to earth' prices."
This saying is used in an identical way in 1935, written in the Sandusky Star Journal newspaper:
"And, while our fashions are as new as tomorrow, our prices are the good down-to-earth prices that
save you money."
Thus, this idiom was a somewhat popular way to describe how the costs of things were both reasonable and affordable for the average consumer.
Reference: Newspaperarchive had digital copies of the newspapers with the phrases in the quote above.
* My car broken down and I had to take it in to the repair shop. I thought it would cost me an exorbant amount of money, but their prices were down to earth and very reasonable.